Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Mixed Marriage


  • Please log in to reply
8 replies to this topic

#1 Chris Keller

Chris Keller

    Junior Poster

  • Members
  • 7 posts

Posted 11 September 2012 - 08:39 AM

Hi there!

I was wondering what to do in a tough situation I find myself in.
My girlfriend and I are increasingly moving towards marriage (the planning stages, at least), and I am thankful to God for it.
However, she is Evangelical (as I used to be--I am still not yet chrismated), and while she has said she would convert to Orthodoxy if she were convinced of it, she said she has difficulty envisioning that happening. Obviously, this is not the ideal situation.
So I guess--and yes, I am going to talk to my priest!--I am just not sure what to do on several things here:

1. The ceremony itself. If I were to be married by her pastor (she has a longer history with her pastor than I do with my priest), would I be permanently excommunicating myself? Is it effectively self-damnation? Permanent "catechumen" status? Eventually able to receive communion?

2. Can I even be married in an Orthodox ceremony as a catechumen? If not, could I be chrismated sometime after? Or am I barred from receiving communion (like because the marriage is seen as invalid)? (To be fair, while I'm 80-90% sure, there are still a few matters of doctrine which I do not understand, and they tend to be the same sort as prevent her from actively seeking to join as well--Mary stuff, sacramental theology, etc.)

3. If we were to be married by an Orthodox priest, would her pastor be able to play any role, even if only done separately (before or after) from the ceremony?

4. Are even, say, fully-Orthodox marriages, able to be performed outside the church building (like in a forest)? If not, what of those during times of persecution? Or would that be an act of economy that doesn't apply?

5. What are the thoughts about raising kids in a mixed environment, as far as formal prayers and holidays? If we were somehow a "proper" mixed marriage, could future children receive communion?

I know it's a lot to ask, but hopefully this thread will be able to help other people in a similar position to mine, and it certainly would help me sort things out. And yes, I know. I will talk with the priest!

#2 Father David Moser

Father David Moser

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 3,581 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member
  • Verified Cleric

Posted 11 September 2012 - 01:41 PM

And yes, I know. I will talk with the priest!


That is the answer to your question right there. No matter what anyone here says, it is your priest who will make determinations concerning your spiritual life and your status within the Church.

My son is in a similar place to you. The whole wedding thing was resolved by having two weddings - the civil wedding with a protestant ceremony by her pastor and an Orthodox wedding the next day in an Orthodox Church with an Orthodox priest (me as it happens). This accommodation required the direct blessing of two bishops (mine and the bishop of the diocese where my son lived and the wedding actually took place) so if your priest decides to go this route he needs to be talking to his bishop and so you need to be talking to him.

Your marriage and your status in the Church will have no bearing on whether or not your children could be baptized - they can and they will be full members of the Church. Your wife may disagree and not consent to the baptism - that will be the problem, not the Church. Usually a mixed marriage requires that the non-Orthodox spouse agrees (and often signs a formal agreement) that the children be raised in the Orthodox Church as Orthodox Christians. You better talk with your fiance about that one and get it clear now.

Fr David

#3 Jeremy Troy

Jeremy Troy

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 175 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 11 September 2012 - 04:36 PM

I can tell you from personal experience that a marriage of mixed faiths is not ideal for the kids. I grew up with a Catholic dad and an Episcopalian mom. The result for me was a lack of a strong religious identity and a feeling that my family was not a spiritual unit. My parents love(d) each other very much, and never divorced or anything like that, so the source of my feelings was purely the division in our faith.

#4 Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson

    Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 290 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 12 September 2012 - 03:03 AM

Make sure your girlfriend will be accepting of you going to Orthodox services even if she does not become Orthodox. You do not want her to assent about you being Orthodox now and try to convince you to become Evangelical later. My wife and I married when we were both Protestant. About 8 years later, I became Orthodox and she became Catholic. Fortunately we sometimes discuss our differences but we do not argue about them, and we let each other be what we are.

#5 Chris Keller

Chris Keller

    Junior Poster

  • Members
  • 7 posts

Posted 12 September 2012 - 06:15 AM

Thank you for the replies! To clear something up, I am actually not yet a chrismated Orthodox or even a formal catechumen; just been attending when I can for almost 2 years, and am thoroughly convinced. (Though I am going to go through catechesis when I am able, sometime soon, I hope!) So how does that change things? Thank you, Fr. Moser, for replying. I am glad to hear that your son was able to find a solution, and I hope for the continued Grace of God on him and his wife. I guess I would wonder then, if I married before being officially received, would I be able to take communion? (Not that I want to try to sneak into it, but pragmatically) And what would be the extent of the "civil marriage" such that it could include a Protestant ceremony?

#6 Father David Moser

Father David Moser

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 3,581 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member
  • Verified Cleric

Posted 12 September 2012 - 02:33 PM

T if I married before being officially received, would I be able to take communion? (Not that I want to try to sneak into it, but pragmatically) And what would be the extent of the "civil marriage" such that it could include a Protestant ceremony?


A person who comes to the Church who is already married but whose spouse does not convert, falls under the injunction of the Apostle Paul that a person who has an unbelieving spouse should remain with them in hopes that the believing spouse will have a salvific effect on them (that puts a lot of expectation on the believing spouse to exhibit the love of God in a major way).

Let me clarify my reference to "civil marriage". From the perspective of the Church, there is no sacrament of marriage outside the Church and so the only kind of marriage there is is a civil marriage - whether it is done in some sort of religious ceremony or in the county courthouse before a judge. You can have all the bells and flowers of a huge protestant wedding and it is still a "civil marriage" because no sacramental grace could be conferred outside the Church.

Fr David Moser

#7 Antonios

Antonios

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,039 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 13 September 2012 - 05:32 AM

Let me clarify my reference to "civil marriage". From the perspective of the Church, there is no sacrament of marriage outside the Church and so the only kind of marriage there is is a civil marriage - whether it is done in some sort of religious ceremony or in the county courthouse before a judge. You can have all the bells and flowers of a huge protestant wedding and it is still a "civil marriage" because no sacramental grace could be conferred outside the Church.


This bears repeating. This is not to say, however, that God cannot bless heterodox unions, for all people are God's children and He desires all people to be saved. We must never forget that God reaches to everyone. The question squarely is, do we reach back?? But that is a topic for a different thread...

Father David above makes an excellent point that these heterodox unions, which may or not be unions at all, do not contain in purity the sacrament of holy marriage as understood and taught by the Church going all the way back to the beginnings. Resting on the witness of the confessors and the martyrs, the Holy Church does not and cannot affirm sacramental grace outside of Herself. Indeed, 'The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes' (John 3:8). We also do not put limits on God or His love.

The Church knows what She knows, in one direct line of humilty, majesty, righteousness, and wonder. And to the glory of God, She can affirm that the grace of God has been present and alive within the life of the Church since the Day of Pentecost. And this grace is active and present in the Holy Orthodox sacrament of marriage. This grace given by the love of God unites the man and the women and makes them into one flesh. This same Holy Spirt mystically molds them upon the One Body of Jesus Christ. This is the witness of the saints who make up this Church, those members who have already ran the race. The very ones who now raise us upon their shoulders by their ceaseless prayers before God, offering incense and psalmody in mystical timeless worship of our loving and merciful Father in Heaven.

#8 Hen

Hen

    Junior Poster

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 16 posts

Posted 14 September 2012 - 05:38 PM

....

Let me clarify my reference to "civil marriage". From the perspective of the Church, there is no sacrament of marriage outside the Church and so the only kind of marriage there is is a civil marriage - whether it is done in some sort of religious ceremony or in the county courthouse before a judge. You can have all the bells and flowers of a huge protestant wedding and it is still a "civil marriage" because no sacramental grace could be conferred outside the Church.

Fr David Moser


Fr David could you please shed some light

In the early Church no special ceremonial was devised to celebrate Christian marriage. It was not important for a couple to have their marriage blessed by a priest. People could marry by mutual agreement in the presence of witnesses which we now call "Civil marriage". When and why did the church start marriage sacrament.

#9 Jean-Serge

Jean-Serge

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 115 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 08 February 2013 - 09:02 AM


Fr David could you please shed some light

In the early Church no special ceremonial was devised to celebrate Christian marriage. It was not important for a couple to have their marriage blessed by a priest. People could marry by mutual agreement in the presence of witnesses which we now call "Civil marriage". When and why did the church start marriage sacrament.

 

Simply because after their civil wedding, they communed at church and such communion acted as a religious seal for their civil wedding.






0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users