Society

The Georgian Orthodox Church Declares a War on Children

Article published on Feb. 10, 2014
Article published on Feb. 10, 2014

Whenever there is an orthodox holiday in Georgia, the Patriarch gives a live sermon on television. This year there was only one orthodox holiday – Christmas on the 7th of January- but the Church’s annual address was enough to shock most of the country. 

Ilia II has been Geor­gia’s pa­tri­arch since 1977. Due to his Parkin­son's dis­ease, he was un­able to give this year's an­nual ad­dress him­self, and en­trusted the task to one of his priests.

The Church's war on chil­dren

Chil­dren were the main topic of dis­cus­sion dur­ing the Priest’s ad­dress. The Priest, speak­ing in the name of the Pa­tri­arch, talked about who can and can­not have a child. The dis­course started with same-sex mar­riage, which wasn’t a sur­prise since every­one is aware of the Church’s view on ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity. But the priest then went on to deny even same sex cou­ples the right to adopt a child, say­ing that adop­tion makes a child an ob­ject that any­one can pur­chase.

‘The progress of sci­ence has raised eth­i­cal prob­lems that mankind has never heard of, such as ar­ti­fi­cial in­sem­i­na­tion, chil­dren con­ceived in test tubes, sur­ro­gate moth­ers, gene fu­sion, cloning etc. So called hu­man­ists sup­port abor­tion, eu­thana­sia and sui­cide’– said the priest dur­ing his ad­dress. ‘Can a fam­ily be happy if their child was born by a sur­ro­gate mother? This child was brought into a love­less home to a life doomed to lone­li­ness. Even if he is raised in a wealthy fam­ily, noth­ing can change the sever­ity of the pre­na­tal pe­riod and the prob­lems that will con­se­quently arise in adult­hood. Chil­dren born by ar­ti­fi­cial in­sem­i­na­tion will be prob­lem­atic too, as their lives were de­vel­oped by de­stroy­ing em­bryos.’

Chris­tian­ity preaches tol­er­ance, kind­ness, op­ti­mism, con­sci­en­tious­ness, and love for mankind, not evil, envy or judg­ment. How­ever, the Church set out to con­demn moder­nity with its judg­ments.

The an­nual ad­dress was par­tic­u­larly shock­ing be­cause the Church had never be­fore said any­thing so neg­a­tive at Christ­mas. Even gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials felt the need to re­spond to the speech.

Merry Christ­mas to you too

The first to re­spond was Tamar Chugoshvili – an ad­viser to the prime min­is­ter. ‘Merry Christ­mas,’ she said, ‘in par­tic­u­lar to the amaz­ing chil­dren who were born by sur­ro­gate moth­ers, or were born through ar­ti­fi­cial in­sem­i­na­tion. Merry Christ­mas to their fam­i­lies, to sur­ro­gate moth­ers, to mi­nor­ity groups, and to women, who, it turns out, are keen on false free­dom, and Merry Christ­mas to those whose hearts hurt today. I’m sure that God par­tic­u­larly loves us.’

Both Pres­i­dent Giorgi Margve­lashvili and the min­is­ter of labour, health and so­cial af­fairs David Sergeenko also re­sponded the next day. Min­is­ter Sergeenko even at­tempted to ex­plain sur­ro­gacy and ar­ti­fi­cial in­sem­i­na­tion from a sci­en­tific per­spec­tive. Many found his at­tempt com­mend­able, since Geor­gians clearly need this kind of in­for­ma­tion.

The Church’s Christ­mas ad­dress this year is es­pe­cially wor­ri­some be­cause many peo­ple in Geor­gia be­lieve what­ever the Church tells them to be­lieve. It is dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand why the Church would say some­thing so hate­ful, es­pe­cially about chil­dren. A speech about chil­dren should be writ­ten with love and pos­i­tiv­ity to­wards every­one.

Most peo­ple want to have chil­dren even­tu­ally, but there are many peo­ple who can­not get preg­nant. These peo­ple do every­thing they can to have a child, so why should we deny them the right to seek al­ter­na­tive ways to con­ceive? Why should a child be treated dif­fer­ently be­cause it was born through ar­ti­fi­cial in­sem­i­na­tion? The fu­ture de­pends on new gen­er­a­tions, and we shouldn’t turn our backs on them, even if the Church tells us to. The Church should learn to make love not war, and es­pe­cially not a war on chil­dren.