Does war revoke Gospel commandments?

An OCU chaplain believes that swearing is quite permissible. Collage: UOJ

OCU "priests" allow themselves to swear on the air, the "hierarchs" justify this by the war in Ukraine, saying there is no gospel ideal on earth. Is it right? 

Deputy Head of the Office of Social Service and Charity of the OCU, "priest" Sergei Dmitriev, on the air of Channel 5, used an obscene expression in relation to Russian President Putin.

This fact was proudly reported by one of the OCU resources – the “Religiina Pravda” ("Religious Truth"), and the "bishop" of this structure GavriilKrizina shared this publication on his Facebook page. In the comments, Krizina states that "the position of the OCU chaplain is unusual" but since the overwhelming majority of Ukrainians (as the "hierarch" of the OCU believes) agree with Dmitriev, this is how Christians should "react to the real enemies of Ukraine".

In general, the situation is not new for modern patriotic circles. Obscene chants towards the president of a neighboring state have become a norm not only for Ukrainian public figures but even for top diplomats. But can representatives of a religious structure participate in such a thing? After all, the sin of foul language has not yet been canceled even in the “patriotic Church”. But a vulgarity on the air is far from the last debatable issue in the OCU. Starting from the situation with Dmitriev, Gavriil Krizina, in communication with his subscribers, substantiated a new ideology – they say, if a priest has been to war, he has the moral right to hate because “unfortunately, war always brings negativity into the life of people (and priests – because they are people)”,  but“ there is no gospel ideal on earth”. According to Krizina, “the chaplains who have seen the real horrors of Russian aggression have no diplomacy and slyness: they call things by their proper names . War is war ... ".

This position has angered many Facebook users. In the comments under the post of the “hierarch” of the OCU, one of the believers wrote that “there are boundaries of what is allowed, there is an axiom - what is allowed and what is not”. Another commentator notes that Dmitriev's words are "preposterous", because "regardless of the importance of political leaders for everyone, such statements are shameful, even for a well-bred secular person". Krizina and others like him are even reminded that, in fact, Christ spoke about a different thing, and the Beatitudes are not about hatred of enemies but about the fact that a Christian should be a peacemaker. To all these arguments, the “hierarch” of the OCU answered the following: “Were you there (in the ATO zone – Ed.)?” If not, then you are a “couch expert” and, therefore, do not have the right to judge the “chaplain” of the OCU.

Should a Christ follower try to love his enemies at His word, or does the modern world dictate its own laws, in which there is no place for the commandments of the Saviour?

To this, Krizina was ironically noted that the Saviour was not "on the frontline in the east" because having been there, according to the logic of the OCU, "He would have formulated the Beatitudes in a different way". For example: "Blessed are those who were on the front in the east, as the previous commandments do not apply to them". Strange, but Krizina did not respond to this remark. But in any case, this discussion poses an especially important question for a Christian - should a Christ-follower try to love his enemies at His word, or does the modern world dictate its own laws, in which there is no place for the commandments of the Saviour?

Is Putin such an "enemy enemy" that it is commendable to hate him?

Not only Krizina but also other "clergy" of the OCU took part in the discussion about the admissibility (and even praise) of hatred of enemies. One of them, who calls himself "Hieromonk Gerasim", said that "Putin is a murderer and a maniac", and if so, then "it is still poorly said for him". Moreover, according to Gerasim, “in general, these are not the priest’s words but a quote. He just quoted folk art. And as it is, it is creativity. Well, he has what he deserves from our people."

Another "clergyman" of the OCU, Taras Ivaniuk, in response to the words that even the chaplain must "sift out" his words and thoughts, wrote that "you should find yourself a little bit under the bullets, then the sieve will become good".

Another person, with as a place of work "OCU" in his profile, said that an abusive expression towards the head of the Russian Federation is a "compliment" since "more than one mother, wife, grandmother cursed" him. The proof of the admissibility of such expressions, according to the representative of the OCU, are the walls of St. Michael’s Monastery, where the names of the Ukrainian soldiers who died in the Donbas are indicated. “And you still write and judge the priest of our church for that ‘bad’ word? ... Chase those who still support the abomination and the MP. Ukrainian to Ukraine! We are one nation, one country, one people,” he wrote with indignation.

And the problem is not Putin's personality. Likewise, members of the OCU hate quite many people: citizens of the Russian Federation, "lugandons" (citizens of the Lugansk region), "separatists" and "vata", and their neighbours, believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. All of them fall into the category of enemies from the slogan "Glory to the nation – death to the enemies!".

It seems that it is for this reason that none of the official spokespersons for the OCU reacted to Dmitriev's words. And not at all because they did not notice. Foul language in relation to "enemies" among members of this religious structure is like some honourable bravado.

Let’s remember that not long ago the OCU banned one of its most famous spokespersons, "priest" Alexander Dediukhin, from serving and speaking out for a month because he allowed himself to speak offensively about women who want to get rid of a child through abortion. In the OCU, Dediukhin's statements were deemed to "humiliate human dignity, incite enmity in society on a political ground, contradict the fundamental principles of Christian morality and ethical norms of Orthodox asceticism, and harm the authority of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine".

It turns out that criticism of abortion "contradicts the fundamental principles of Christian morality" while foul language on the air – not? Why? Because they are said in relation to the person who is considered an enemy in Dumenko's organization. It's like in the joke in which every true Ukrainian must kill a titmouse and a Muscovite. According to the script, the listener should ask: "Why the titmouse?" After all, killing a Muscovite is self-evident and therefore very funny. So, it is the case. It is forbidden to insult women who want to have an abortion, but it is acceptable, even commendable, towards Putin because of war.

Therefore, the opinion of all these people who call themselves "priests" cannot be called strictly subjective. No, they broadcast to their parishioners the general position of the OCU leadership and also express the views that prevail in this religious structure. But how much does this position bring the members of this structure closer to Christ?

Is the sin of foul language already an anachronism?

Sometimes priests are invited to secular channels, where they want to be modern and speak with the audience in “its language”. Yanina Sokolova honestly warned Dmitriev: “You came to our programme, which uses foul language,” and asks direct questions: “How does the Church feel about the fact that people use obscenities. Is it a sin"?

How does Dmitriev react to this? He does not speak directly, but answers the question with a question: Is the word "bastard" abusive or not? In other words, the “priest” of the OCU makes it clear to the audience that there is nothing wrong with obscenities and specifically confirms this with his "сatchphrase" at the end of the broadcast.

Meanwhile, the Church quite unequivocally interprets foul language as a sin that seriously harms the soul of a Christian. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul writes: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption”(Eph. 4: 29-30). And it is not just words. Foul language is called "anti-prayer". Priest Alexander Shumsky once said:

“Once I said to a foul-mouthed person: “You can use obscenities for hours, you don’t experience any difficulty to utter these words. But try to say at least for one minute: “Lord, have mercy!” Two words – just one minute!" He failed. He got angry and swore at me after that. Here is such a sad experiment. Ask the person to pray for a couple of minutes instead of using foul language – at least for a dare. After all, he will not even say a short Jesus Prayer. He will get angry and start fighting. You can't swear and pray!"

Christianity and love for enemies

It makes no sense to quote all the aggressive words and expressions that are heard from the lips of the “clergy” and “hierarchs” of the OCU – there are too many of them. The question is: can they somehow be justified? With the war, the names of the dead, being on the front line, something else? Can the manifestation of atrocities and looting be blamed on "war"? Does a Christian need to keep his conscience clear even during the fighting? Can one downgrade themselves to obscene words and expressions just because of "war"?

Maybe, the Savior should have taught the people the song "La-la-la, Pontius Pilate – f * wad"?

The teaching of Jesus Christ, His very life and personality is not about hatred of enemies, but ... about love for them (Luke 6:35). After all, was the time of the Saviour's earthly life so fundamentally different from the present, at least in the eyes of the current Ukrainian patriot? The Jews were then under Roman occupation and aspired to independence. Maybe, the Savior should have taught the people the song "La-la-la, Pontius Pilate – f * wad"? The Jews and Pharisees more than once sought the death of Christ. Maybe, He should have taught the apostles a song, vilifying the high priest? We see nothing of the kind. The Saviour teaches Christians: “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). In fact, these are very strong and scary words. Because few of us succeed in following them. But a Christian should strive for this at least and not justify himself with “war,” “weakness,” and so on.

The same Gavriil Krizina, responding to Andrei German, who considers Dmitriev's statement unacceptable, noted that he “wishes the gospel ideal”, which is not on earth but there is “war”. To which he got the answer of a true believer: “Yes, I wish. Therefore, I once became a Christian, I’m dreaming of becoming one. War not only brings a lot of unworthy and cruel; war gives a chance to remain human first of all. The greatness of a person is not in insults, curses, hatred. The greatness of church people is that they should be peacemakers. It's not about bringing bullets or wood into a burning fire."

Yes, we must be peacemakers. Preaching about love for enemies has always, at all times, destroyed "social foundations". It is so at odds with the worldview of non-believers so much that they perceive Christians as people dangerous to society. In the Roman Empire, believers in Christ were killed because they were not patriots, as they refused to make sacrifices to the gods. In modern Ukraine, someone who does not want to hate is not considered a patriot. And they see a danger in him (remember the words quoted above that “we must chase those who support the abomination and the MP”). In this context, if you talk about loving your enemies, you will certainly be accused of wanting to be on their side, wanting them to conquer us, etc. Here is a story that can be projected onto the present (told by Archimandrite Raphael (Karelin)).

“Once the Albanian Church, now defunct, was headed by Catholicos Grigorios. He was consecrated as a bishop in his youth when he was only seventeen years old. He was a man of a holy life who converted Caspian Albania (present-day Azerbaijan) to Christianity. When he was twenty-three years old, his country was invaded by the Huns. He, having come to their king-ruler, began to preach the Gospel to him. The Hunnic king listened carefully, it seemed that he was ready to allow Grigorios to preach among the Huns and was even himself close to accepting this teaching. But when Grigorios began to speak of love for enemies, the Hunnic commanders shouted: "King, can’t you see that he is a spy who has come to destroy us? If we love our enemies, then we must throw down our swords, go out to them unarmed, and then the enemies will destroy us all. Can’t you see what nets he lures you into?" Then the king of the Huns ordered to tie Grigorios to a wild horse and release it into the field ... ".

And this is where the main problem lies – we must not throw swords but must stop hating. The OCU does not understand this. Why? Because they think like the Huns – in a pagan way. After all, the defense of one's homeland and anger are different things. As, in fact, the teaching of Christ and the preaching of hatred, especially with obscene expressions.

From the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks

Here is what John Chrysostom wrote about this: “Learn, first of all, never to call the enemy by names contemptuous but honorable. And if the lips get used to calling the offending person by an honorable and pleasant name, then the soul, having heard this and being enlightened and taught by the language, will willingly reconcile with him. The very words will be the best cure for the heart ulcer." And in another place: "He who blesses his enemy, blesses himself, and whoever curses him, curses himself, and who prays for the enemy, prays for himself, not for him."

Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov believed that love for enemies gives the heart the fullness of love: "In such a heart there is no room for evil at all, and it is likened to the goodness of its All-Merciful God." Accordingly, hatred for the enemy likens a person to the spirit that is at enmity with the All-Good God.

And this state cannot be hidden – neither in clothes nor in words, nor in behaviour, nor in step and thoughts. The war in the Donbass has nothing to do with this state. It neither revokes the commandments of God nor corrects them. In fact, war clearly shows the inner world of a person, speaks of what he/she really is. For example, look at this photo, which Dmitriev took right after the broadcast with Yanina Sokolova, where the pectoral cross almost falls through the journalist's neckline. Can you imagine any normal priest in his place? And is it possible to justify such behaviour of the "priest" Sergiy by the fact that he is a "chaplain" and has been “at war"? The answer is obvious.

"Priest" of the OCU Sergei Dmitriev and journalist Yanina Sokolova

In general, it has long been noticed that those who betrayed the Church (like Dmitriev, Krizina, who comes from the UOC), are trying by any means to prove their loyalty to their new “friends”. Here one can recall the heartless janissaries, the Nazi policemen, and all other defectors who, in their desire to please the "masters", transcend the norms of morality and humanity. In this sense, neither Sergei Dmitriev nor Gavriil Krizina told us anything new.

The only pity is that by their actions they lead into the sin of hatred, anger and pride those who believe in their priestly robes. Indeed, by and large, they have nothing to do with the priesthood. And they talk about how they live and what they really feel. And if they say obscenities, they live like that.

After all, “out of the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks,” and “by their fruits you will know them,” isn't that right?

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