Since the late 1990s, the Russian Orthodox Church and several mainline Western Protestant churches have been at odds over homosexuality to such an extent that it has turned into a church-dividing issue. This article aims to find new openings for the ecumenical dialogue by examining how the ROC’s negative attitude toward same-sex relations has been influenced by cultural and historic factors. The analysis focuses on the affective dimension of the ROC’s discourse on homosexuality in important social documents and public speeches. The methodology applied is taken from affect studies. The rhetoric of the ecclesial texts recalls ‘shadows from the gulag’ and frightening memories of the chaos of the 1990s, and functions to create an imagined national, moral and religious community – the ‘Russian Christian civilization’ – which is characterized by masculine heterosexuality. Religious concepts tend to become subordinate to the affective politics of the discourse. In conclusion, the author proposes that ecumenical partners continue with a profound theological discussion on human sexuality in all its diversity and complexity, and clarify to each other how understandings of basic theological notions such as human dignity and freedom have also been shaped by formative historic experiences. Furthermore, ecclesiological debates should address, at a fundamental level, the relationship between Christian community and the freedom ‘to be different.’
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DOI 10.1080/21692327.2013.829649
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