Just recently, the United States Congress debated the issue of same-sex marriage. While there were many different positions debated, with all sides throwing out scripture verses as if scripture were truth itself rather than a record of truth, the church itself can only take one position, and that is to be squarely against the issue.
What we are witnessing today is the slow but deliberate attempt to redefine sin. Just as it took the courts years to redefine abortion from the act of taking an innocent life to a simple medical procedure, so now society or groups within the society are moving to redefine marriage. What we are witnessing, and presently reaping the fruits of, is situational ethics -- where truth is no longer absolute or eternal, but relative; where individuals determine for themselves what is to be "right" or "true" for them; where there exists not a truth, but many truths. Situational ethics is but one of many manifestations of the divorce of man from God. Apart from the person of God, man attempts to create new truths to justify his behavior, based on personal whims or beliefs. But just as there are absolute truths in science, so there are moral absolutes.
While we as a society are able to vote to change the legal status of a sin, that does not mean that it is now OK. The reality is that sin is sin no matter how we redefine it. The church cannot compromise its views simply because society changes. The church stands as a witness to eternal truths and the not passing fads of society.
Imagine what it would be like for the National Education Association to redefine 1+1=3. Or the American Medical Association to redefine cancer or AIDS as normal. While these organizations may do this, it will not alter the fact that 1+1=2 or that cancer and AIDS are illnesses that need to be fought. The church has always encountered groups with their own political and societal agenda that have slandered the church, accusing it of being prejudiced, hate mongers, selfish. As Orthodox Christians we are well aware of the wars of propaganda that can be waged against the church. But it must be understood that just as we are opposed to making same sex marriages "legal", so we are opposed to adultery, murder, lying, cheating; the list goes on because all these things are manifestations of the disease of the soul.
Our responsibility as church is to restore fallen creation to what God had originally intended it to be; a means of communion with Him. This can only be done in himself through the fall. And this restoration of man is accomplished by bringing all to Christ, who is the divine physician. Like a doctor dedicated to removing the disease to heal the patient, so the church strives to remove the sin in the lives of people so that they may have life and have it more abundantly. But this becomes extremely difficult when society redefines sin. A doctor cannot treat the patient if the patient refuses to recognize his or her own illness. If we refuse or are unable to see our own sins then how can we repent, how can we properly prepare ourselves through repentance to enter into the kingdom of Heaven?
Like the woman caught in the act of adultery and ready to be stoned, so, too, has society been caught in its unfaithfulness to God. Christ speaks the same words to us as He did to her so many years past, "Go and sin no more." But, unlike the woman who repented and followed Christ as a repentant sinner, society now has the audacity to redefine what is sin and what is not. As if we could put one over on God who lives by the spirit of the law and not the letter. The church cannot simply follow the whims of society because there will always be those who will fight to have sin recognized as good and good as evil. As such, the church will always be labeled as "intransigent," "outdated," "intolerant," "hate mongers" as long as there is sin. Like one sent out to save a drowning man, we must be sure that we, as church, are not also dragged down under by the frenzy and fear of the one who is drowning. We must be sure that we as the church are striving to restore man in the image and likeness of God, rather than trying to reduce God to the level of us fallen men.
Just because we are born into sin does not mean that it is normal or that God intended us to be that way. Should we as a society redefine cancer and AIDS as normal because there may be a genetic tendency towards cancer or because AIDS is a difficult and expensive disease for us to overcome? Do we now accept these diseases as normal because so many people are afflicted with them? Should we now accept those who are suffering from alcoholism as normal simply because they maybe were born with a genetic tendency towards drink? Do we disband al those chapters of Mothers Against Drunk Driving simply because we now have come to realization that the drunk drivers were born that way? Is addiction the normal state of crack babies? Just as there is no such thing as a cured alcoholic, only alcoholics who labor not to drink, so there is no such thing as a cured sinner, but only sinners who strive not to sin.
It has been said that we here in America are very blessed because we have a country that is free. People from around the world look to America as a great country because of this freedom. But it is a freedom not to do what we want, but a freedom to do what we ought. As the church we have the obligation to be that witness to the truth, a witness to the world of the freedom to do what we ought in the eyes of God. Often the church is unpopular, but the church is not here to win popularity contests, but to speak the truth in love.