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Author Topic: Marriage/Conversion  (Read 913 times) Average Rating: 0
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Reuben
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« on: December 10, 2010, 12:01:38 AM »

Hi everyone, I have a quick question I would love some help with.

I am a married man considering converting to Orthodoxy. My wife is very supportive, but (as of now) not interested in joining me. She has no particular religious affiliation, or baptism. I personally believe that once she saw the Church working in my life, she may decide otherwise, but there's no guarantee there.

My question is: will the Church allow me to join without my wife initially joining me? Is this a matter for a priest to decide or is there a hard-and-fast rule about it? I have read some other threads on this site on similar subjects, and I am aware of the potential difficulties of a household with mixed-religious views, but I feel the need to convert very strongly, and at the same time I am totally committed to my marriage.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
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Thomas
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« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2010, 12:49:05 AM »

Yes, canonical Orthodox Churches will baptize/chrismate you with or without your wife---it is usually easier on you if your spouse joins with you, but it is not required.

THOMAS
« Last Edit: December 10, 2010, 12:51:02 AM by Thomas » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2010, 03:41:23 AM »

Hi Rueben!  Welcome to the forum, friend.  Smiley

 I don't have anything to add to what Thomas has already said, except to say that I am praying for you and your wife.  If she is supportive like you've mentioned, then, by all means, welcome home!
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« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2010, 06:18:51 AM »

Hi everyone, I have a quick question I would love some help with.

I am a married man considering converting to Orthodoxy. My wife is very supportive, but (as of now) not interested in joining me. She has no particular religious affiliation, or baptism. I personally believe that once she saw the Church working in my life, she may decide otherwise, but there's no guarantee there.

My question is: will the Church allow me to join without my wife initially joining me? Is this a matter for a priest to decide or is there a hard-and-fast rule about it? I have read some other threads on this site on similar subjects, and I am aware of the potential difficulties of a household with mixed-religious views, but I feel the need to convert very strongly, and at the same time I am totally committed to my marriage.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
I've known some men who waited until their wives were ready, some for many years, some not so long, before chrismation.  Others went ahead, and their wives caught up later.

There is a preference to chrismate you as a couple, for reasons which you seem aware of.  There is a wide spectum of catechesis before chrismation (mine was only a few months, but others I know of have been up to three years), during which time your wife might chance her mind and you and the priest can plan accordingly.  But if you near the end of your catechumenate, and she hasn't entered it yet, there is no reason to postpone your chrismation. In fact, since much of that working of the Church in your life doesn't start until you are received fully, it would be better not to postpone your chrismation at that time.

Btw, I've know a number of men who married non-Orthodox, and years later their wives came of their own volution.  I know a couple where the wife has not come over, although she does come to Church and is active with the parisioners. Their two oldest children were baptized just recently, though.

Which brings up the only remaining question, do you have children?  If not, you still should broach the subject of having any future ones baptized Orthodox.  If you do, you should broach the subject of them converting wth you (which I would assume in their case would be baptism).

You mention that she has no particular baptism. Was she never baptized?  If not, that might be an issue. The Church will not marry an Orthodox  with a non-baptized person, but that shouldn't apply to you, since you were married before your receoption into Orthodoxy, and you will therefore be received as a married person, whether your wife converts or not.  Most convert couples do not have an Orthodox ceremony, but they can (and many do after some time), but if your wife is not baptized, you will not be able to have the ceremony, although the Church will still receive you as a married man.

And welcome!
« Last Edit: December 10, 2010, 06:20:17 AM by ialmisry » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2011, 06:13:28 PM »

Hello everyone! It's been a while.

I'm happy to report that I have been received as a Catechumen and couldn't be more pleased. I haven't brought up the marriage deal yet - I just haven't found an appropriate moment - but all the comments on this board, plus my additional research, have made me fairly certain that it shouldn't be an issue. This particular church seems to have an appropriately broad understanding of Orthodoxy - some decades back their priest was defrocked because of heretically fundamentalist and bigoted statements - so I would be very surprised if there was any wish to block my Chrismation because of my marriage. (I don't mean to suggest that it is an excessively liberal church - just Orthodox.)

In any case, I have another question. It is not a big deal but it is gnawing at my mind a little bit. Last Saturday, at Vespers, I was one of maybe six people attending. At a certain point in the service, the woman up by the iconostasis who was doing some of the chanting - perhaps a little further on in catechism I will better know how to refer to her! - made what I'm fairly certain was a gesture at me that I confess I am at a loss as to how to interpret. I forget at exactly which part of the service it was - it's mostly in 1st century Greek, so it's not always easy to follow! - but I was standing, as was everyone else, when she looked over at me and made a gesture that, under normal circumstances, would look like "get up!" In other words, hands out, palms upwards, moving them up and down. Does that make sense? Since I was already standing up, I had no idea what to do. I was also uncomfortable being, it seemed, singled out during my worship, which had never happened to me before and had the unfortunate effect of making me self-conscious when I was trying to be with God. All I could think of was my hands were crossed in front of me, at about crotch level - I would never have thought twice about it, but could this somehow give offense? Forgive me, but that would seem a little odd. Then I wondered if she wanted me to hold my hands outward like that, in a supplication gesture. But no one else was doing this, and frankly, besides crossing yourself, I'd never heard of there being mandatory hand gestures from the faithful in Orthodoxy.

I'm baffled. On the other hand, I'm delighted to finally be on the home stretch of this journey and this of course is a very minor thing.

Thanks to everyone for their help on my previous question!
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« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2011, 07:07:50 PM »

"All I could think of was my hands were crossed in front of me, at about crotch level - I would never have thought twice about it, but could this somehow give offense?"

Ah yeah, I suspect that may have been it. Any sign of physical relaxation during a service like hand in pockets, crossed legs, crossed ankles, crossed arms, slouching etc. is considered very disrespectful. I may be wrong, but I understand that little old Greek ladies will be among the first to disabuse you of your ignorance. I don't even cross my ankles in church.

I once saw my priest flip the hands out of the pockets of a guy who looked like he could have torn a telephone book in two with his bare hands, he was that massive. The priest did it as readily as if the fellow had been 8 years old. You're only 'at ease' after the service.

I always tell my friends that Orthodoxy is like the marines of Christianity. There may only be six of you there at vespers, but it's the most ardent amd commited six.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2011, 07:13:22 PM by sainthieu » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2011, 03:17:39 AM »

I cross my arms and I don't consider it disrespectful. By the way it's the way how  Old-believers pray so it can't be wrong angel
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« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2011, 05:38:01 AM »

"All I could think of was my hands were crossed in front of me, at about crotch level - I would never have thought twice about it, but could this somehow give offense?"

Ah yeah, I suspect that may have been it. Any sign of physical relaxation during a service like hand in pockets, crossed legs, crossed ankles, crossed arms, slouching etc. is considered very disrespectful.

Crossing of arms in the front into a clasp at the hands somewhere around the belly and crotch seems pretty standard in EO churches I have been to.
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« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2011, 11:04:03 AM »

I cross my arms and I don't consider it disrespectful. By the way it's the way how  Old-believers pray so it can't be wrong angel

Truth. This is actually really cool. Old Believers will cross their arms and lay their palms flat against their sides (not in fists like many who casually cross their arms will do). This is done because it is how one stood when in the presence of the Emperor, proving that one did not have any weapons. As Christ is the King of all, we should also stand this way in His presence.

This is an old Byzantine tradition that was lost centuries ago by the Byzantines, and then later in Russia through reform. The Old Believers held onto it, though!


Crossing of arms in the front into a clasp at the hands somewhere around the belly and crotch seems pretty standard in EO churches I have been to.

This is also my experience, it's pretty standard in my parish. However, my parish is very much convert-dominated and I don't have much experience with majority ethnic parishes. I could see how this would be seen as a sign of relaxation and therefore discouraged. It makes perfect sense, but it wouldn't have occurred to me.
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« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2011, 11:23:56 AM »

I cross my arms and I don't consider it disrespectful. By the way it's the way how  Old-believers pray so it can't be wrong angel

Truth. This is actually really cool. Old Believers will cross their arms and lay their palms flat against their sides (not in fists like many who casually cross their arms will do). This is done because it is how one stood when in the presence of the Emperor, proving that one did not have any weapons. As Christ is the King of all, we should also stand this way in His presence.


Really?  I've never seen anyone "cross" their arms in church.  Besides, why should we have to "display" to God that we are not hiding any knives, guns, etc?  First, He would already know, and second, He's not threatened by our measly armaments.

I've always been taught to stand straight (or be bowing), with arms hanging loosely at your sides (or crossing yourself).

However, I don't think there's anything "wrong" with clasping your hands in front of you.  We've got one women who often raises her arms (palms upward) in front of her when she prays.  I don't think it's "wrong", but, I find it a bit disconcerting at times, because that's how I've seen Muslims pray.  However, it is how one would stand if they were truly asking for something, so again, I don't think it's "wrong".  God knows what is in our hearts and minds....and I don't think our posture (unless it's completely disrespectful or careless) would truly bother Him.  I think it's the prayer that is important, not what your hands are doing when your heart is praying.



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« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2011, 11:26:12 AM »

When in doubt, ask her. State you did not understand what she was doing---it may have been directed at you or another person. remind her that you are a catechumen and still learning. If she is a yaya that will be enough of an excuse and change her anger to  grandmotherly advice and education---they love to do that with  catechumen---how else do you learn but from the elders at their feet. Be respectful and thankful after she gives the advice, and never again do it in her presence and you will survive.

some of my best advice and spiritual practuices come from the yayas, but remember they are not used to new converts---they assume everyone is a cradle Orthodox and should have been taught better by their mothers and yaya (grandmother). her response was likely that she thought you were already Orthodox.

Thomas
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« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2011, 03:22:50 PM »

...should have been taught better by their mothers and yaya (grandmother).

ROFL! So true!
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« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2011, 03:58:10 PM »


We've got one women who often raises her arms (palms upward) in front of her when she prays.  I don't think it's "wrong", but, I find it a bit disconcerting at times, because that's how I've seen Muslims pray.  However, it is how one would stand if they were truly asking for something, so again, I don't think it's "wrong". 
It might be a Middle Eastern thing. I have learned to follow the example of some ethnic (but US born) Lebanese Orthodox Christians (Antiochian) who do exactly what you describe. However, I would avoid the gesture if I thought it might draw attention to myself.
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