Author Topic: Married to Non-believer... Question  (Read 1710 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline stavros_388

  • OC.net guru
  • *******
  • Posts: 1,313
  • Faith: Catholic
Married to Non-believer... Question
« on: January 28, 2011, 04:49:09 PM »
Technically speaking only, if someone comes to Orthodoxy and is received into the Church through Holy Baptism and Chrismation while being married to an unbaptised non-Christian spouse, can that Orthodox Christian participate in every aspect of the life of the Church (ie Confession, Communion, etc)?  Is it up the priest of a given parish?  Are there jurisdictional differences on this issue?

Thanks in advance.
"The kingdom of heaven is virtuous life, just as the torment of hell is passionate habits." - St. Gregory of Sinai

"Our idea of God tells us more about ourselves than about Him." - Thomas Merton

Offline JLatimer

  • OC.net guru
  • *******
  • Posts: 1,202
Re: Married to Non-believer... Question
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2011, 04:50:42 PM »
I would guess so. It's not uncommon for one spouse to want to convert while the other is just not interested.
1 Samuel 25:22 (KJV)
So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.

Offline stavros_388

  • OC.net guru
  • *******
  • Posts: 1,313
  • Faith: Catholic
Re: Married to Non-believer... Question
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2011, 09:42:01 PM »
Thank you, JL.

Can anyone else please confirm or elaborate?
"The kingdom of heaven is virtuous life, just as the torment of hell is passionate habits." - St. Gregory of Sinai

"Our idea of God tells us more about ourselves than about Him." - Thomas Merton

Offline Alveus Lacuna

  • Taxiarches
  • **********
  • Posts: 7,023
Re: Married to Non-believer... Question
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2011, 10:19:43 PM »
Yes, that person would still be a full member. If the unbelieving spouse is willing, some priests or bishops might want to have a marriage ceremony done in the Church, but not necessarily.

Offline stavros_388

  • OC.net guru
  • *******
  • Posts: 1,313
  • Faith: Catholic
Re: Married to Non-believer... Question
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2011, 10:42:35 PM »
Yes, that person would still be a full member. If the unbelieving spouse is willing, some priests or bishops might want to have a marriage ceremony done in the Church, but not necessarily.

That's what I thought.  Thanks, Alveus.
"The kingdom of heaven is virtuous life, just as the torment of hell is passionate habits." - St. Gregory of Sinai

"Our idea of God tells us more about ourselves than about Him." - Thomas Merton

Offline quietmorning

  • Archon
  • ********
  • Posts: 2,412
  • St. Photini
    • Whispers Written - a friends only journal - pm to be added.
Re: Married to Non-believer... Question
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2011, 12:18:03 AM »
I am married to an unbeliever.  I don't 'think' he's ever been baptized. . .and I am in full communion with my church.  I pray for my husband and he is sanctified through me.  My priest and I did talk about this, he has been very helpful and very encouraging.  My husband has changed a LOT in the last year. . .still unbelieving. . .but not angry and unbelieving. . . baby steps. :)
In His Mercy,
BethAnna

Offline stavros_388

  • OC.net guru
  • *******
  • Posts: 1,313
  • Faith: Catholic
Re: Married to Non-believer... Question
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2011, 12:44:34 AM »
I am married to an unbeliever.  I don't 'think' he's ever been baptized. . .and I am in full communion with my church.  I pray for my husband and he is sanctified through me.  My priest and I did talk about this, he has been very helpful and very encouraging.  My husband has changed a LOT in the last year. . .still unbelieving. . .but not angry and unbelieving. . . baby steps. :)

Thanks, quietmorning.  Yes, baby steps.  It's good to know I'm not the only one! :)

Since being baptized, I have moved around a lot, but have never had a problem confessing and communing at different parishes, under the guidance of parish priests who knew about my marital situation.  However, I met with a priest today and he told me that I could not take communion at the parish unless or until my wife becomes Orthodox.  He insisted that this is canon law.  I've never encountered a problem before.  I figured either he had to be mistaken, or the three or so priests I've dealt with before were mistaken. 
"The kingdom of heaven is virtuous life, just as the torment of hell is passionate habits." - St. Gregory of Sinai

"Our idea of God tells us more about ourselves than about Him." - Thomas Merton

Offline quietmorning

  • Archon
  • ********
  • Posts: 2,412
  • St. Photini
    • Whispers Written - a friends only journal - pm to be added.
Re: Married to Non-believer... Question
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2011, 12:49:10 AM »
I am married to an unbeliever.  I don't 'think' he's ever been baptized. . .and I am in full communion with my church.  I pray for my husband and he is sanctified through me.  My priest and I did talk about this, he has been very helpful and very encouraging.  My husband has changed a LOT in the last year. . .still unbelieving. . .but not angry and unbelieving. . . baby steps. :)

Thanks, quietmorning.  Yes, baby steps.  It's good to know I'm not the only one! :)

Since being baptized, I have moved around a lot, but have never had a problem confessing and communing at different parishes, under the guidance of parish priests who knew about my marital situation.  However, I met with a priest today and he told me that I could not take communion at the parish unless or until my wife becomes Orthodox.  He insisted that this is canon law.  I've never encountered a problem before.  I figured either he had to be mistaken, or the three or so priests I've dealt with before were mistaken. 

Wow.  I'm speechless.  I wonder if anyone else has ever experienced that. 
In His Mercy,
BethAnna

Offline Justin Kissel

  • •|•|•
  • Protospatharios
  • ****************
  • Posts: 31,761
Re: Married to Non-believer... Question
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2011, 12:52:58 AM »
Wow.  I'm speechless.  I wonder if anyone else has ever experienced that. 

I know I didn't... both my wife and I had periods where one was non-Orthodox while the other was Orthodox, and we had no issues.

If necessary, you could always write the bishop and see what he has to say. Though admittedly if you do that without the priest knowing first, Fr. might feel like you've slighted him.
"My doubt in Christ is not like that of a child; it was forged in a furnace of faith." - Dostoevsky

Offline Alveus Lacuna

  • Taxiarches
  • **********
  • Posts: 7,023
Re: Married to Non-believer... Question
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2011, 01:43:01 AM »
However, I met with a priest today and he told me that I could not take communion at the parish unless or until my wife becomes Orthodox.  He insisted that this is canon law.  I've never encountered a problem before.  I figured either he had to be mistaken, or the three or so priests I've dealt with before were mistaken. 

Perhaps he was mistaken and thought that you meant you married an unbeliever after you were already Orthodox in a civil ceremony, and that it was not a marriage in the eyes of the Church? I think there are canons about Orthodox who marry those outside of the Church.

Offline SolEX01

  • Toumarches
  • ************
  • Posts: 12,276
    • Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
  • Faith: Orthodox
  • Jurisdiction: Metropolis of New Jersey
Re: Married to Non-believer... Question
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2011, 02:40:19 AM »
I am married to an unbeliever.  I don't 'think' he's ever been baptized. . .and I am in full communion with my church.  I pray for my husband and he is sanctified through me.  My priest and I did talk about this, he has been very helpful and very encouraging.  My husband has changed a LOT in the last year. . .still unbelieving. . .but not angry and unbelieving. . . baby steps. :)

Thanks, quietmorning.  Yes, baby steps.  It's good to know I'm not the only one! :)

Since being baptized, I have moved around a lot, but have never had a problem confessing and communing at different parishes, under the guidance of parish priests who knew about my marital situation.  However, I met with a priest today and he told me that I could not take communion at the parish unless or until my wife becomes Orthodox.  He insisted that this is canon law.

Challenge him....

I've never encountered a problem before.  I figured either he had to be mistaken, or the three or so priests I've dealt with before were mistaken. 

Challenge him....  If this Priest is a stickler for Canon Law, then you may not want to try receiving Holy Communion (or setting foot) at that Church.  If you win your challenge, then this Priest will commune you, no questions asked.  Perhaps he may be the one testing you....   ???

Offline stavros_388

  • OC.net guru
  • *******
  • Posts: 1,313
  • Faith: Catholic
Re: Married to Non-believer... Question
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2011, 09:41:51 AM »
However, I met with a priest today and he told me that I could not take communion at the parish unless or until my wife becomes Orthodox.  He insisted that this is canon law.  I've never encountered a problem before.  I figured either he had to be mistaken, or the three or so priests I've dealt with before were mistaken.  

Perhaps he was mistaken and thought that you meant you married an unbeliever after you were already Orthodox in a civil ceremony, and that it was not a marriage in the eyes of the Church? I think there are canons about Orthodox who marry those outside of the Church.

Unfortunately, this was not the case.  I explained my marriage and history with the Church to him in detail.  He even knows the priest who baptized me.  So yesterday was a big let down as I finally gave confession for the first time since moving here, and then was told I couldn't commune unless my wife becomes Orthodox.  Maybe after my confession, he just didn't want to have to deal with me on a regular basis!  :laugh:

My inclination for now is to simply attend one of the other two Orthodox parishes in the city regularly instead, and not to challenge the issue.

Thanks for everyone's input on this.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2011, 09:48:17 AM by stavros_388 »
"The kingdom of heaven is virtuous life, just as the torment of hell is passionate habits." - St. Gregory of Sinai

"Our idea of God tells us more about ourselves than about Him." - Thomas Merton

Offline Ortho_cat

  • Protokentarchos
  • *********
  • Posts: 5,392
Re: Married to Non-believer... Question
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2011, 11:25:01 AM »
However, I met with a priest today and he told me that I could not take communion at the parish unless or until my wife becomes Orthodox.  He insisted that this is canon law.  I've never encountered a problem before.  I figured either he had to be mistaken, or the three or so priests I've dealt with before were mistaken.  

Perhaps he was mistaken and thought that you meant you married an unbeliever after you were already Orthodox in a civil ceremony, and that it was not a marriage in the eyes of the Church? I think there are canons about Orthodox who marry those outside of the Church.


Unfortunately, this was not the case.  I explained my marriage and history with the Church to him in detail.  He even knows the priest who baptized me.  So yesterday was a big let down as I finally gave confession for the first time since moving here, and then was told I couldn't commune unless my wife becomes Orthodox.  Maybe after my confession, he just didn't want to have to deal with me on a regular basis!  :laugh:

My inclination for now is to simply attend one of the other two Orthodox parishes in the city regularly instead, and not to challenge the issue.

Thanks for everyone's input on this.

Unbelievable! Is this a different jurisdiction than the one you were a member of previously?

Offline stavros_388

  • OC.net guru
  • *******
  • Posts: 1,313
  • Faith: Catholic
Re: Married to Non-believer... Question
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2011, 12:00:32 PM »
However, I met with a priest today and he told me that I could not take communion at the parish unless or until my wife becomes Orthodox.  He insisted that this is canon law.  I've never encountered a problem before.  I figured either he had to be mistaken, or the three or so priests I've dealt with before were mistaken.  

Perhaps he was mistaken and thought that you meant you married an unbeliever after you were already Orthodox in a civil ceremony, and that it was not a marriage in the eyes of the Church? I think there are canons about Orthodox who marry those outside of the Church.


Unfortunately, this was not the case.  I explained my marriage and history with the Church to him in detail.  He even knows the priest who baptized me.  So yesterday was a big let down as I finally gave confession for the first time since moving here, and then was told I couldn't commune unless my wife becomes Orthodox.  Maybe after my confession, he just didn't want to have to deal with me on a regular basis!  :laugh:

My inclination for now is to simply attend one of the other two Orthodox parishes in the city regularly instead, and not to challenge the issue.

Thanks for everyone's input on this.

Unbelievable! Is this a different jurisdiction than the one you were a member of previously?


This is the jurisdiction that I was baptized into (Greek), actually. But having moved around so much since, have been with both the OCA and Orthodox Metropolis of Korea for longer periods.  I'm sure I can get to the bottom of this if I contact the priest who baptized me, but am not sure how I feel about doing this.  I think I might just be better off not rocking the boat by going quietly to another parish in another jurisdiction.  Still thinking it over...
"The kingdom of heaven is virtuous life, just as the torment of hell is passionate habits." - St. Gregory of Sinai

"Our idea of God tells us more about ourselves than about Him." - Thomas Merton

Offline Alveus Lacuna

  • Taxiarches
  • **********
  • Posts: 7,023
Re: Married to Non-believer... Question
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2011, 08:51:35 PM »
I'd rock however many boats you need to. Who would become Orthodox if it meant that they could not receive any of the Mysteries? That priest sounds like a real piece of work. I'd like to know what canons he's referencing, and then I'd like to reference about a hundred that he don't follow himself.

Anyway, you shouldn't be chased out of the Greek church just because of this priest, but then again after challenging him and going through all of that, would you really want to confess to him?

Offline stavros_388

  • OC.net guru
  • *******
  • Posts: 1,313
  • Faith: Catholic
Re: Married to Non-believer... Question
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2011, 10:32:44 PM »
I'd rock however many boats you need to. Who would become Orthodox if it meant that they could not receive any of the Mysteries? That priest sounds like a real piece of work. I'd like to know what canons he's referencing, and then I'd like to reference about a hundred that he don't follow himself.

Anyway, you shouldn't be chased out of the Greek church just because of this priest, but then again after challenging him and going through all of that, would you really want to confess to him?

I've decided to gently challenge the issue. But yeah, if it requires more than that, I will be moving on (although I was really enjoying the Greek Liturgy).
"The kingdom of heaven is virtuous life, just as the torment of hell is passionate habits." - St. Gregory of Sinai

"Our idea of God tells us more about ourselves than about Him." - Thomas Merton

Offline Iconodule

  • Uranopolitan
  • Taxiarches
  • **********
  • Posts: 7,252
  • "My god is greater."
  • Faith: Orthodox Christian
  • Jurisdiction: Ecumenical Patriarchate (ACROD)
Re: Married to Non-believer... Question
« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2011, 10:59:00 PM »
What this priest is essentially saying is that, if you're married before conversion to a non-believer, you can't be a full member of the Church unless a) you leave your spouse or b) you manage to get her to convert too. If that were the case, many early Christians, including saints (the martyr Domnina of Antioch, for example) would never have been allowed communion.
"A riddle or the cricket's cry
Is to doubt a fit reply." - William Blake

Offline stavros_388

  • OC.net guru
  • *******
  • Posts: 1,313
  • Faith: Catholic
Re: Married to Non-believer... Question
« Reply #17 on: January 30, 2011, 11:08:28 PM »
What this priest is essentially saying is that, if you're married before conversion to a non-believer, you can't be a full member of the Church unless a) you leave your spouse or b) you manage to get her to convert too. If that were the case, many early Christians, including saints (the martyr Domnina of Antioch, for example) would never have been allowed communion.

Wow. I hadn't thought of it that way. I think I'll copy what you've written as something to bring up if/when I meet with the gentleman again!
"The kingdom of heaven is virtuous life, just as the torment of hell is passionate habits." - St. Gregory of Sinai

"Our idea of God tells us more about ourselves than about Him." - Thomas Merton

Offline Ortho_cat

  • Protokentarchos
  • *********
  • Posts: 5,392
Re: Married to Non-believer... Question
« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2011, 10:46:38 AM »
Besides, how else does this priest expect for you to acquire the grace of the Holy Spirit necessary to bring your wife into Holy Orthodoxy without allowing you to draw from the wellspring of salvation in order to do so???  ::)

Offline Shanghaiski

  • Taxiarches
  • **********
  • Posts: 7,978
  • Holy Trinity Church of Gergeti, Georgia
Re: Married to Non-believer... Question
« Reply #19 on: January 31, 2011, 12:41:32 PM »
There are canons regarding this situation. The priest is simply wrong. Perhaps our resident canonists can help?
Quote from: GabrieltheCelt
If you spend long enough on this forum, you'll come away with all sorts of weird, untrue ideas of Orthodox Christianity.
Quote from: orthonorm
I would suggest most persons in general avoid any question beginning with why.