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Author Topic: Missionary dating etc...  (Read 1138 times) Average Rating: 0
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GabrieltheCelt
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« on: January 28, 2010, 02:16:08 AM »


 So I was talking to a Protestant friend yesterday about dating.  We were talking about being 'equally yoked' as well as having the correct foundation before things progress into an actual relationship.  He mentioned the curious phenomena called 'missionary dating' where one partner will basically focus on converting the other.  We both agreed that this was neither responsible nor a good way to look for a spouse, but though I tended to agree with him, I also had a more open mind about it.  Particularly since single Orthodox men and women are a tiny minority.  I tend to think that if one finds a person of the opposite sex that is at least willing to listen with an open heart and mind, then there it's commendable to try and convert them; both for their salvation as well as a more suitable potential spouse.  I think the part I basically was agreeing to is that it's never a good idea to enter a relationship thinking or hoping we'll change the person.

 What say all y'all?  Ever hear of this concept?  Is it ever a good idea? 
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« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2010, 02:27:56 AM »

Am I allowed to throw my two cents in here?  Wink

What you ask is an interesting question. The first thing that came to mind was the classic (or is it stereotypical?) case of a woman who marries a man and expects to change him. For instance, maybe the guy goes out every weekend night with the boys to bars or whatever. Maybe the woman falls in love with the guy, and expects that once they get married--and certainly once they have kids--the guy will settle down and stay at home. But maybe that never happens. (Of course, it could just as easily be a man who falls in love with a woman who is always going out with the girls partying). Generally, I think it's a bad idea to get into a serious relationship in those kind of cases. Sure, people can change. But if it's important to you, I think you should make sure that people change before you commit to them (whether by engagement, marriage, or whatever). So, I think we are in agreement on that point.

As far as converting them, well if they are interested, I don't see any problem sharing with them. Of course, you might be taking the chance of spoiling their opinion if you come on too strong. For example, if you have a bad falling out with them, they might associate your religion with you, and avoid Orthodoxy in the future. Not a good reason, true, but that doesn't mean that people wouldn't do that. Whether it's responsible or justified, the fact is that people sometimes do judge religions according to what the adherents are like. I would think that the degree to which this will be a problem is probably directly related to how pushy you were about your chosen religion. So... I would the safest course might be to become an educator, rather than an evangelist. And the student should be the one that guides the learning process.
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GabrieltheCelt
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« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2010, 02:41:04 AM »

Am I allowed to throw my two cents in here?  Wink
Of course!  Smiley

What you ask is an interesting question. The first thing that came to mind was the classic (or is it stereotypical?) case of a woman who marries a man and expects to change him. For instance, maybe the guy goes out every weekend night with the boys to bars or whatever. Maybe the woman falls in love with the guy, and expects that once they get married--and certainly once they have kids--the guy will settle down and stay at home. But maybe that never happens. (Of course, it could just as easily be a man who falls in love with a woman who is always going out with the girls partying). Generally, I think it's a bad idea to get into a serious relationship in those kind of cases. Sure, people can change. But if it's important to you, I think you should make sure that people change before you commit to them (whether by engagement, marriage, or whatever). So, I think we are in agreement on that point.

As far as converting them, well if they are interested, I don't see any problem sharing with them. Of course, you might be taking the chance of spoiling their opinion if you come on too strong. For example, if you have a bad falling out with them, they might associate your religion with you, and avoid Orthodoxy in the future. Not a good reason, true, but that doesn't mean that people wouldn't do that. Whether it's responsible or justified, the fact is that people sometimes do judge religions according to what the adherents are like. I would think that the degree to which this will be a problem is probably directly related to how pushy you were about your chosen religion. So... I would the safest course might be to become an educator, rather than an evangelist. And the student should be the one that guides the learning process.

Good points.  I think I can agree with you on all points.  I also would like to say that I think the same might also be applicable to our friendships as well, though certainly to a lesser degree.  I thought the topic was really interesting and wanted some Orthodox perspectives (no offense Asteriktos!  Wink).  
« Last Edit: January 28, 2010, 02:41:41 AM by GabrieltheCelt » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2010, 02:47:56 AM »

As a fellow singleton, I have also wondered about this frequently, since I could not imagine getting married or raising my children in any church other than the Orthodox Church.

In speaking to couples where one spouse converted, it usually went something like this:

The couple started dating because they were interested in one another. As time went on and the relationship developed, the Orthodox party would casually invite the non-Orthodox party to Church with them. They wouldn't force it on the other, but they made them feel welcome to join them for services. If questions about the faith were asked, they would happily answer them.

Over time, the non-Orthodox party, upon learning about the Church, would freely decide to convert. Sometimes this happened before the wedding, sometimes it didn't happen until 25 years after the wedding.

I believe the key is not to ram your faith down the other person's throat, but to let them know "hey, this is a part of my life, and you are welcome to share in it with me if you want to."

How this will all work out for me, I have no idea. I leave it in God's hands, because His are much wiser than mine.  Grin
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« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2010, 02:54:09 AM »

A relevant blog post: http://orthromance.blogspot.com/2008/03/missionary-dating-convert-your-sweetie.html

"About the time I joined the Orthodox Church for theology, there was another tall fellow joining for marriage. He joined because the girl he was dating was Orthodox. His birth name, like mine, was Eric. He was an Army captain with rippling biceps. My guess is that he weighed 280 pounds, a solid 280, and he was 6 foot 3 inches tall. He is handsome, hardworking, and since his conversion, has really enjoyed going to church. Stop drooling, ladies.

He took the name of the Apostle James, and I took the name of the Apostle Thomas. (There was a St. Eric from Norway, but he was canonized half a century after the Great Schism. Sigh.) Because I was 6 foot 9, and he was 6 foot 3, people in my parish burdened him with the awful nickname "little Eric." I suppose this is partially my fault. When we say the pre-Communion prayer that includes, "...forgive my transgressions both voluntary and involuntary, of word and deed, committed in knowledge or in ignorance..." maybe it was this kind of "involuntary, ignorant" sin that St. John Chrysostom was getting at. Just by my being there, now Eric has a dreadful nickname.

This, I suppose, is Missionary Dating working well -- seeing someone who isn't Orthodox, and then your sweetie converts so he or she can marry you. How does this work? How did Natalie, James Eric's wife, manage to make this happen?"
« Last Edit: January 28, 2010, 02:55:33 AM by Ukiemeister » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2010, 03:25:21 AM »


 Relevant indeed, Ukie.  Thanks for sharing this!  Smiley
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« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2010, 09:33:13 AM »

This applies to me rather directly.  I started dating my now girlfriend about a year before I became interested in Orthodoxy and when I wasn't even faithfully living out my christian faith.  Since becoming serious about my faith she's been sceptical at times but supportive and increasingly so.  She's attended church with me faithfully, we've met with an Orthodox priest together, she asks questions and has even asked me to pray for things.  It's not without its challenges but it could certainly be worse.  She's finally more or less agreed to allow our children to be baptized in the Orthodox Church (when we have them).  She's supportive during the fasts as well and she likes it when I incense her if she's over while I'm doing my evening prayers!  Haha.

Oh, and most importantly... She thinks I look better with a beard! Wink

Oh, p.s. though we will be married (God willing) before I enter the Church, the Orthodox Church in Japan does allow its members to marry non-christians and to remain in good standing.  However, only Orthodox Christians (husband and wife) can be married in the Church.  In this way, it's both more lax and stricter than what I understand the various jurisdictional policies in the States to be.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2010, 09:36:20 AM by GregoryLA » Logged
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« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2010, 01:39:03 PM »

In my case, the Orthodox party (me) did invite the non-Orthodox party to Church and the non-Orthodox party later commented on being stared at by yia yias.  We attended Church a few more times (including an Ordination) and stopped after the 40 day Blessing of our son.  Besides attending a few Greek festivals, we have not attended Church as a family.  I also attended my ex-wife's non-denominational Church on one occasion.

So, as a formerly married (civilly) singleton with child, finding someone of interest whether Orthodox or non-Orthodox is already tough enough.  Asking a non-Orthodox interest to attend Church is a harder problem for me since I don't attend Church as much as I used to.  When I was in school, I was at Church every Sunday and perhaps that influenced some of my fellow classmates except I was hesitant to date anybody back then.   Sad
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« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2010, 02:42:49 PM »

As a fellow singleton, I have also wondered about this frequently, since I could not imagine getting married or raising my children in any church other than the Orthodox Church.

In speaking to couples where one spouse converted, it usually went something like this:

The couple started dating because they were interested in one another. As time went on and the relationship developed, the Orthodox party would casually invite the non-Orthodox party to Church with them. They wouldn't force it on the other, but they made them feel welcome to join them for services. If questions about the faith were asked, they would happily answer them.

Over time, the non-Orthodox party, upon learning about the Church, would freely decide to convert. Sometimes this happened before the wedding, sometimes it didn't happen until 25 years after the wedding.

I believe the key is not to ram your faith down the other person's throat, but to let them know "hey, this is a part of my life, and you are welcome to share in it with me if you want to."

How this will all work out for me, I have no idea. I leave it in God's hands, because His are much wiser than mine.  Grin

this is precisely how I think, too, and how I'm approaching my wife with things.  I "do" Orthodoxy as best I can and invite her to come.  If she passes, so be it.  She knows the door is open, so to speak, and I know that one day, she'll come through it with me Smiley
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« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2010, 04:48:48 PM »

I don't mind being set up on a date with a member of the same faith.  However, I would really find it creepy, almost cult like, if the Church started trying to arrange marriages or something along those lines. 

Having the same religion as your spouse is important, but not as important as being able to get along with them in a regular basis so that you can build up a lasting relationship. 
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