Are Christmas Trees Orthodox?

We are now preparing to celebrate the Nativity of Christ, so this is a timely question. It’s generally thought that the tradition of decorating Christmas trees originated in sixteenth century Germany - there doesn't seem to be any mention of them in early Orthodox sources. However, it’s important to remember that the Orthodox Church is not a museum, but a living organism - the Body of Christ. The Church, therefore, does not hold that everything old is to be preferred over anything new. Some ancient traditions have fallen into disuse for pastoral or practical reasons, meanwhile new icons are painted, and hymns and prayers written to newly glorified saints.  Many Orthodox families put up a Christmas tree at home, and some churches do too. Tsar Nicholas 1 imported the tradition into Russia in the early nineteenth century, and from that time decorating the Christmas tree became part of the Russian Royal Family's Christmas tradition.  The Russian Royal Martyrs, Olga, Maria, Tatiana

What is a woman?

Answering the simple question ‘what is a woman?’ has proved difficult for some senior politicians in the UK. The scientific answer is clear. A woman is an adult human female. This answer is also completely Orthodox. It’s impossible for anyone to change sex. Every diploid cell in the human body has either ‘male' or ‘female' genetically stamped on it. Males have the XY sex chromosomes whilst females have XX chromosomes. (Some children are born with an intersex condition in which the external genitals do not match up with the internal reproductive organs or the sex chromosomes. When treating these rare conditions by surgery, doctors are not changing the sex of the child; instead, they are trying to conform the outward genitalia to the internal reproductive system.) Senior politicians who cannot answer this basic biology question say that sex is a different concept from gender. In other words, children are assigned male and female at birth, but they can later choose to reject this


The Orthodox Church is not against vaccination. Sadly, a medical error with the BCG vaccine in Romania in 2016 caused a fear of vaccination to spread. People also think that vaccines are made from aborted babies. Like most fake news, there’s a tiny element of truth to this.  The Rubella (German Measles) vaccine was developed in the 1960s using lung cells from two babies that were aborted because their mother had caught this virus which causes serious birth defects and miscarriages. These cells were allowed to copy themselves, and the virus extracted and purified before being made into the vaccine. However (and this is very important), the vaccine doesn’t contain cells from the two children, and they weren’t killed to make the vaccine.  Non-Orthodox opponents of vaccination say that governments use vaccines to control people. Others say that vaccines disturb our ‘energy flow’. This idea is found in witchcraft and various New Age practices such as crystal healing. It’s completely un-Orth

The Coronavirus Pandemic

Every country in the world has been affected by coronavirus disease (COVID-19).  Some have suffered more than others, for reasons that scientists don’t altogether understand.  Most countries have introduced some kind of lockdown meaning that Orthodox Christians can't attend their parish church for worship.  These extreme actions by governments have generated loads of conspiracy theories on the Internet. For example, some people say that the virus doesn’t exist – that the pandemic is a plot hatched by someone or other.  We know that this isn’t true, because members of our Church are working to save lives in hospitals in the UK and abroad. We know from their first-hand reports that COVID-19 is real and can kill people. Others say that it’s a persecution of the Church. This conspiracy would make more sense if churches were shut and pubs, clubs and gyms were open. In the UK, every place where people gather is shut. The situation is very different to the persecution of Christians under

Climate Change Protests

A Church of England vicar was arrested in London this week after climbing on top of an electric train to protest against Climate Change. The Archbishop of Canterbury said he supported the aims of the protestors. Should Orthodox Christians support these protests? The answer is simple. No, we shouldn’t. We will discuss our reasons below. Christ says that His Kingdom is not of this world (see John 18:36) and that the earth will pass away (see Matt. 24:35). Our goal as Christians is to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. We're not trying to save the planet, we're trying to save our souls by showing love for our neighbour. Disrupting public transport thereby stopping people getting to college, work and hospital is not Orthodox. It's utterly selfish and immature and shows hate and not love for our neighbour. Most of these extremist protestors seem to be Marxists or Communists. They openly talk about overthrowing our society and even abolishing money altogether. We cannot suppo

Can gay people be cured?

The Orthodox Church does not support the so-called 'gay conversion therapy' carried out by various secular or religious groups. The methods that some of these groups use are not even vaguely Christian and harm people physically, psychologically and more importantly, spiritually. The Orthodox Church, in contrast, is a spiritual hospital; the Mysteries of the Church can cure all kinds of spiritual sickness. First of all, we need to get rid of any notion that gay people are evil and that we are superior to them, even though we are ruled by our own passions. Judging people in this way is a sure way to fall into the same sins or worse. On the other hand, Orthodox Christians should not refer to themselves as ‘gay Orthodox’ because being gay is not something we are proud of. Fr. Thomas Hopko sums this up brilliantly: The tragic truth, however, is that countless people, especially in contemporary secularized societies, have become convinced that their sinful thoughts and feel

How does the Church decide whether someone is a saint?

The Roman Catholic process of ‘making saints’ is very different from the process the Orthodox Church uses to acknowledge that a person is a saint. When a person is ‘glorified’ (the term we use for the Church service that proclaims someone a saint), the Church is just formally recognizing the belief of the people that this person is a saint.   For someone to be recognized as a saint the Church as a whole has to recognize them, from the ordinary Orthodox Christian up to the most important bishop. The bishops investigate the life of this person to make sure that their life and teachings were Orthodox. There is no points system or a set number of miracles that need to be worked for someone to become a saint. Of course, there are many saints that the Church hasn’t formally glorified. There are thousands of martyrs, monks, nuns and other Orthodox Christians that are saints of the Orthodox Church but known only to God. The martyrs Raphael, Nicolas and Irene of Lesvos ( right ) are famous