Moscow’s Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, is a prime enabler of President Vladimir Putin’s War in Ukraine. Kirill blesses the Russian military forces as they then invade the innocent and democratic neighbor, Ukraine, to destroy the place for the purpose of annexing it to Russia. Not only that, Kirill has said of Putin’s leadership that it is “a miracle of God.”
Putin and Kirill, together, say this warm, which Putin designates as a “special military operation,” is more against the morally decadent West that it is of Ukraine. Kirill and Putin have repeatedly denounced the West, and given as one the reasons for the war in Ukraine as an effort to stamp out the “sin” of homosexuality. This effort has a history.
In 2013, the Russia Federation’s parliament, The Federal Assembly, passed a law forbidding the influence of homosexuality on minors, called the “gay propaganda law.” It is things like this that has caused some Republicans and conservative thinkers in the U.S. to favor Putin or even his current war in Ukraine.
Ever since the war in Ukraine started, on February 24th, Patriarch Kirill reportedly has been preaching on Sunday’s in churches about this war. For instance, on March 9th–the last day of Lent, which the Eastern Orthodox Church designates ironically as Forgiveness Sunday–Kirill preached a church sermon in which he repeatedly denounced “gay parades” in the West, referring to Europe and the U.S. where gay parades are not only tolerated but protected by law. So, Kirill has supported Putin in his decision to direct the “special military operation” in Ukraine, which Kirill even called a “war” for which Russians supposedly are being imprisoned. Kirill said it is “not a physical but a metaphysical struggle,” thereby implying it is about morality.
The (Eastern) Orthodox Church is the second largest church denomination in the world, with 220 million baptized members. It advocates church-state unions, in which the Russian Orthodox Church is one of its many branches. Some Russians, including a few hundred of the 40,000 clerics of the Russian Orthodox Church, have objected to Putin’s War in Ukraine. In fact, when Putin’s forces first invaded Ukraine, in 2014, and annexed its Crimean Peninsula to Russia, the Ukraine Orthodox Church afterwards requested, and was granted, separation from the Russian Orthodox Church. Many Orthodox believers worldwide have cited the issue that Russians killing Ukrainians is totally indiscriminate, killing people regardless of their moral values or religious affiliation. Indeed, there is something in the Bible about such indiscriminate killing that relates to Putin’s War in Ukraine.
For four thousand years, in many cultures homosexuality was identified as the “sin of sodomy.” It is because of the first book of the Bible, about the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Evidence has been discovered in recent times that these two cities literally existed near the south end of the present Dead Sea which separates Israel and Jordan.
Genesis 18 relates that the patriarch Abraham–whom Jews and Muslims designate as the founding father of their religion–was living in his tents among “the oaks of Mamre” when he saw three personages called “men” approaching (Gen 18.1-2). One was “the LORD” who “appeared to Abraham.” Bible readers have often been perplexed about the identity of these three individuals. Two clearly were angels who appeared as men since the next chapter of Genesis begins, “The two angels came to Sodom in the evening” (Gen 18.1; cf. Gen 32.24-30 with Hosea ).
I believe the other individual in Genesis 18.2 was a special angel who represented “the LORD,” that is, as God’s personal agent. One reason is that the Bible teaches many times this truth: “No one,” meaning no human being, literally “has ever seen God” (John 1.18; cf. 4.46; 1 John 4.12; 1 Timothy 6.16).
There were two purposes for which these three angels, with one being God’s personal agent, came to Abraham.
First, the angel of the LORD prophesied to Abraham and his wife Sarah that, although they were childless and Sarah was well beyond childbearing years, being 85 years old, they were literally going to have a son, saying to Abraham, “your wife Sarah shall have a son” (v. 10). God was going to make “a great and mighty nation” through Abraham and his son, so that “all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him” (Gen 18.18 NRSV). Why had God chosen to do this through Abraham? The angel representing God said to the other two angels concerning Abraham, “I have chosen him, that he may charge his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD, by doing righteousness and justice; so that the LORD may bring about for Abraham what he has promised him” (v. 19).
Second, God told Abraham that he was going to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah due to their extreme wickedness, which seems to have been highlighted by the sin of male homosexuality. Abraham responded to “the LORD,” referring that angel who was God’s personal representative, by saying, since Abraham’s nephew Lot and his family were living there, “Far be it from you to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the judge of all the earth do what is just?” (Gen 18.25). This last sentence has been much quoted throughout history.
Then we read, “And the LORD said, ‘If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will forgive the whole place for their sake'” (Gen 18.26). They went back and forth until Abraham said, “‘Suppose ten [righteous] are found there.’ He answered, ‘For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.’ And the LORD went his way” (vv. 32-33).
The two angels then went to Sodom and Gomorrah and led Lot and his family out. Then we read, “the LORD rained down on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven; and he overthrew those cities, and all the Plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities” (Gen 19.24-25).
Thus, God destroyed those wicked cities only after there were no righteous people there. Moscow Patriarch Kirill, who is head of the Russian Orthodox Church advocates against this principle, which he surely knows, by supporting Putin’s War in Ukraine.