21-22 November 2009, Moscow
If you love those who love you,
what credit is that to you?
For even sinners love those
who love them.
Luke 6, 32
We, Christians – Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants – participants of the International Interdenominational Conference of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, listening to God’s Word and sharing in the communion of the Holy Spirit, have adopted the following statement addressed to:
Being members of the Christ’s Church and of local Churches, we express our good will and love, and address the hierarchies and leaders of Christian Churches with the words of Scripture: «No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us» (1 John 4, 12). God’s love for humanity is the central theme of biblical history. Christ urged his disciples to love one another: «A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another» (John 13, 34). Love urges for acceptance of human diversity and tolerance towards differences. We are open to your differences and hope for you to be able to accept ours. Sadly, many Churches do not accept their LGBT brothers and sisters. Furthermore and often, representatives of Church communities express homophobic and transphobic views. Hatred, contempt and indifference are at the heart of homophobia and transphobia. Such situation has a negative impact on the whole of Christ’s Church and causes pain to us as Christians. Growing in the spirit of Christian love and guided by love of humanity, the Church has constantly developed theological reflections on, and changed its attitude towards many complex issues. We are calling on Church hierarchies for dialogue in the spirit of Christian love and to join in a search for new theological positions which would allow LGBT Christians to share fully in the life of our local Churches.
Being members of both the Christian community and the LGBT community, we understand the extent of pain of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and acknowledge the responsibility of some contemporary Church teachings for the homophobia and transphobia which many of us have to face. However, we would like to remind ourselves that if we want other people to be open towards us, we have to be open too. Mutual respect and love contribute to understanding between Churches and the LGBT community. The LGBT community’s experience is its strength and the whole society may learn from that. We are calling on the LGBT community and activists to move from exclusively fighting against homophobia and transphobia to working for tolerance, acceptance of diversity, love and mutual upbuilding. The time has come to change the language of destruction for the language of creation. Dialogue alone is a constructive method and our aim should be to make such dialogue possible.
Dear brothers and sisters! We know how many of us remain in deep isolation of a closet. Each of us has his or her own reasons for that. However, today we would like to call for openness – before God, oneself, your own Christian community and the LGBT community. Lack of openness keeps us away from life in its fullness. Christ said that he came to give us an abundant life. He did not say that that such life is only after death; he calls us towards that life here and now. Being open requires courage; also those of us living in a closet have to have courage too. We would like to remind ourselves about the responsibility which rests on us as LGBT Christians. Our lives are a challenge and help for the Church to remember the commandment of Christ’s love. We are responsible for the changes which may take place in Church. The more open we become, the more likely those changes are to happen. We are not calling you to a total coming out – not everyone can afford that. However, we believe that everyone has potential to overcome isolation to some extent, so that our voices will be heard and the hearts of our brothers and sisters changed when touched by Christian love.
With love in Christ,
Valery Sozaev (Russia, St Petersburg, LGBT Ministry “Nuntiare et Recreare”)
Yuri Maximov (Russia, Moscow, LGBT Ministry “Nuntiare et Recreare”)
Ihar Ivanou (UK, LGBT Ministry “Nuntiare et Recreare”, “Quest”)
Fr Maxim Bratukhin (Kyrgyzstan, Comminities of Apostolic Tradition)
Stanislav Sergunin (Russia, Moscow, Quakers)
Andrei Obolenski (Russia, Moscow)
Nikolai Sheikin (Russia, St Petersburg)
Elgar Agaev (Russia, Moscow)
Mykolai Favorski (Ukraine, Krivoi Rog)
Ivan Savchenko (Ukraine, «LGBT Christians of Ukraine»)
Martin Pendergast (UK, London, The Soho Masses Pastoral Council)
Florin Buhuceanu (Romania, Bucharest, Metropolitan Community Church)
Gard Realf Sandaker-Nielsen (Oslo, Norway)