Tallinn, Estonia, June 16, 2023
On June 12, the Estonian Council of Churches published a message in defense of the traditional understanding of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
The text was signed by the heads of all denominations represented in the Council, including Metropolitan Evgeny of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Estonian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Stephanos of Constantinople’s Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church, and various Catholic and Protestant leaders.
The statement comes as the parliament prepares to vote on a bill that could make Estonia the first ex-Soviet state to legalize gay marriage.
Both Orthodox jurisdictions also issued statements in May after the government initially approved the draft law that will soon be put to the vote.
The Council’s message reads:
All the Christian churches operating in Estonia, which are members of the Council of Churches of Estonia, support a holistic view of life, where harmony reigns between the happy life of each person and the vitality of the people as a whole. As Christians, we believe that this harmony is guaranteed by a view of marriage, children, and family based on the Holy Scriptures.
God created the human race—man and woman—in His image and laid the foundation for marriage, a covenant-based union between the two sexes. This is both a physical, emotional, and spiritual union, which in the Holy Scriptures is characterized by the words “one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). This means the potential ability to give birth to children and the continuation of the human race, gratitude for this gift, and the desire to bring it to life. In every person, life is reflected as a gift from God, and in the marriage of a man and a woman, the idea of creation becomes reality.
There are no examples in the Holy Scriptures on the basis of which it could be assumed that the cohabitation of same-sex people could be called marriage. According to the Creator’s plan, marriage is a form of joint life of only a man and a woman who complement each other and help each other, as described in the first chapters of the Holy Scripture:
So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth (Gen. 1:27-28);
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh (Gen. 2:24).
For children born in a family, the father is a man and the mother is a woman, and it is they who have the primary privilege and duty to fulfill their parental destiny in everything related to the upbringing and development of children. The duties of parents in the family are equal.
We believe that a family based on the marital union of a woman and a man is the basis for the preservation and the prerequisite for the multiplication of the people, which is consistent with both the Bible and the spirit, idea, and purpose of the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia. Children born from father and mother do not remain without roots. Children build their identity the way their parents, grandparents, and all previous generations of the family tree did.
We believe that it is at home that children also adopt the faith of their parents and grandparents, which is important for supporting the mental health and stability of the new generation in a situation where the proportion of wars, diseases, and other unforeseen factors is constantly increasing in society. We adhere to the point of view that children are our most valuable treasure, whose privilege and duty of upbringing belongs to their biological parents, who are a bridge between the past and the future for children. The preservation of marriage and family as a legacy rooted over the centuries reflects a stability-oriented way of thinking and time-tested values.
We believe that ideals consistent with the Holy Scriptures also meet the conditions of a happy human life. It is necessary to protect the ideals and strengthen their influence in society, because it is on the ideals that the preservation of the people and culture of Estonia depends for all time.
Respecting the right of all people to freedom of religion and speech, we expect the same attitude in response from those who do not share our faith and life values with us. It is on the basis of our faith that we are convinced that the joint life of persons of the same sex is inherently different from the marriage of a man and a woman, therefore we do not agree with any attempts by changing the current laws to blur or violate the legal and essential concept of marriage as a union of one man and one woman.
We are of the opinion that the concern of parishes and society—the Church and the State—as a whole is best manifested in maintaining traditional marriage by finding the necessary social support mechanisms to ensure the preservation and viability of the family.
We pray for peace, love, and harmony in society! May the Lord preserve Estonia and its people!