MOSCOW (Christian Examiner) – Recent decisions by the Church of Scotland to ordain homosexual ministers and the United Protestant Church of France to bless same-sex marriages are acts "incompatible with the norms of Christian morality" and paves the way for the acceptance of the Antichrist, leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church have said.
As a result, the Russian Orthodox Church will sever ecumenical dialogue with the both churches, according to a statement it issued.
"The Russian Orthodox Church holds the firm position based on Holy Scriptures and has repeatedly declared the mentioned innovations were inadmissible for moral teaching and thus it ought to reconsider the format of her relations with the churches and associations which trample upon the principles of traditional Christian morality," the statement said.
"Guided by the resolutions of the Bishops' Council of 2008, saying that 'the future of relations with many Protestant communities depends on their faithfulness to the norms of Gospel and apostolic morality kept by Christians over many centuries,' and of the Bishops' Council of 2013 saying that 'a dialogue with confessions which openly defy the Biblical moral norms is impossible,' the Department for External Church Relations does not see any prospects in maintaining official contacts with the Church of Scotland and with the United Protestant Church of France."
This is not the first time the Russian church has broken off communications with other church groups around the world over the issue of homosexuality.
In 2003, the church broke communication with the Episcopal Church in the USA after it consecrated openly homosexual New Hampshire bishop Gene Robinson. That bishop, who retired in 2013, divorced his civil union partner of six years in 2014.
The church also broke ties with the Church of Sweden in 2005 when it decided to bless same-sex unions. Now, that church also has its first openly lesbian bishop in Stockholm.
According to the Russian church's statement, it has been observing recent events in the churches of Western Europe. The decline of the churches there because of the acceptance of homosexuality has caused "anxiety and disappointment" among Russian church leaders, the statement said.
As early as 2013, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations, said the Russian church expressed hope that the issue of homosexuality in Europe's churches would "be based on the apostolic tradition."
"Regrettably, these hopes have not been justified, and the words of warning have not been heard," the statement said.
LifeSiteNews reported that after the statement was issued, the Very Rev. Fr. Dimitry Smirnov, chair of the Russian Orthodox Church Commission for Family, Protection of Motherhood and Childhood, told a Russian television station the church had to separate itself from "the plague, as it's contagious."
"These are not Christian communities anymore. This is another community with its own distinct name of 'LGBT.' Its future is simple and clear – the 'fire of Gehenna' – this is just what the Holy Scripture says," Fr. Smirnov said.
Worse, Smirnov said, "the former Christian peoples are preparing themselves for the solemn reception of Antichrist."
In 2013, the Russian church voiced its strong opposition to legislation in both the French legislature and British parliament granting the right of same-sex marriage to French and British citizens.
A statement from the church in 2013 warned that countries that have radically redefined traditional family ethics have experienced "a demographic crisis which is growing from year to year."
"The revision of fundamental norms of family law on which the human community has been built for centuries and which are preserved as before in the moral code of major world religions is a path leading to the self-liquidation of whole nations," the statement said.
Importantly, not all members of the Church of Scotland have taken kindly to the church's revision of its teaching on human sexuality. One presbytery issued a statement June 3 calling the decision of the General Assembly on the acceptance of homosexuality "a denial and departure from the clear teaching of God's Word: that such relationships are to be between one man and one woman, and that always within the context of marriage."
The statement from the Lewis Presbytery also said:
"Once a Church rejects or ignores its roots in the Bible's teaching, and sets the authority of Scripture aside, the potential for waywardness from God in other areas of life and doctrine is real."