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Author Topic: Marriage to Non-Orthodox & Excommunication  (Read 3513 times) Average Rating: 0
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Sirach
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« on: February 27, 2011, 01:37:26 AM »

Is this statement true(?):

If an Orthodox marries a non-Christian person (e.g., a Jew, Muslim, Hindu, etc., or simply not religious), technically he or she excommunicates him/herself from the Church and is denied Church sacraments.

If true, can a Bishop, after speaking to the couple and perhaps with some requirements, give an Orthodox person the approval to marry a non-Christian person?

Source:  The Orthodox Church Today: A National Study of Parishioners and the Realities of Orthodox Parish Life in the USA (PAOI, 2008) page 77.

Thank you.
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« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2011, 02:53:06 AM »

Why would an Orthodox person who is serious about their faith want to unite themselves to a person who rejects Jesus Christ?
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« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2011, 03:28:07 AM »

Why would an Orthodox person who is serious about their faith want to unite themselves to a person who rejects Jesus Christ?

and if they are not serious about their Faith, why seek His Church's blessing?

No, unlike the Vatican, a bishop cannot allow such a marriage.  It would be what is called "lawless," although it does happen. It also happens that people can get defrocked over it.
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« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2011, 06:38:22 PM »

Just to clarify then... the statement is true?   Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2011, 07:52:06 PM »

Just to clarify then... the statement is true?   Smiley

Yes. Marriage as a sacrament belongs to the Church and can only be between two baptised Christians as a sacrament. The only exception is when two non-Christians get married first and then one of the two converts. The Church will allow the convert to stay married to their current spouse.

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« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2011, 12:06:26 PM »

The Orthodox Church believes that marriage is more than a private transaction between two people. It is a sacrament. When we make choices or decisions that are not what the Church believes, preaches and teaches, such as deciding to marry a non-Christian, then by our choices, we have voluntarily placed ourselves outside the Church.

People are never forced to marry “outside the Church” – that is the decision of the individual.  This is a matter not only of ecclesiology but also common sense – if we do not believe in the teachings and practices of a particular group, why would we want to belong and participate?

The choice to marry a non-Christian, a personal decision, unfortunately results in a self-imposed restriction on full participation in the sacramental life of the Church.
 
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« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2011, 12:28:05 PM »

It's interesting that this comes up here now. There was a group of us with our priest a few days ago that talked about marrying non-Christians and non-Orthodox.

Father essentially told us that we could not marry a non-Christian at all. Period. The Church cannot bless it. Concerning marriage to non-Orthodox Christians, there was some wiggle room. Marriage to non-Chalcedonians is usually acceptable, as is marriage to Roman Catholics. He said he might (might) be all right with marrying an Orthodox to a very traditional and confessional Anglican, Lutheran or Methodist, depending on the specific situation. Then, he categorically rejected just about everyone else, specifically listing the Salvationists (Salvation Army), a local non-denominational megachurch and other low-church, non-sacramental confessions.
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« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2011, 01:02:40 PM »

I can certainly see where marrying a non-Christian would be officially prohibited, and marrying a non-Orthodox Christian would be discouraged.  Benjamin's response, however, does bring up a question.

What difference does being a confessional Christian, or having a higher view of the sacraments make if those beliefs - be they Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, or Methodist - are still at odds with the Orthodox faith?
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« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2011, 10:50:37 PM »

The Church will allow the convert to stay married to their current spouse.

In a non-Matrimonial relationship? Or will the Church actually administer the Sacred Mystery of Matrimony to such a couple?
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« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2011, 10:52:47 PM »

What difference does being a confessional Christian, or having a higher view of the sacraments make if those beliefs - be they Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, or Methodist - are still at odds with the Orthodox faith?

Heterodoxy comes in degrees. These groups, while they are still truly heterodox to some degree, are nonetheless less heterodox than others. It allows more room for the spouses to have a common worldview and spiritual relationship.
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« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2011, 11:02:06 PM »

I'll echo what has been said above: no one in the Church can bless such a marriage between an Orthodox Christian and a non-Christian, and if they did, such an act would be seen as being of no effect by the Church and would lead to the defrocking of the celebrant clergyman and an excommunication for the Orthodox spouse.

The only exception is when two non-Christians get married first and then one of the two converts. The Church will allow the convert to stay married to their current spouse.

Not just "allow," but (per St. Paul) encourages the spouse to stay married as a Christian witness to the non-Christian spouse.

In a non-Matrimonial relationship? Or will the Church actually administer the Sacred Mystery of Matrimony to such a couple?

The Church will not administer the sacrament of Matrimony to that couple, but it will not "punish" the Orthodox spouse for remaining in the otherwise married relationship.  This is a biblical standard, not a new practice.
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« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2011, 11:18:58 PM »

The Church will not administer the sacrament of Matrimony to that couple, but it will not "punish" the Orthodox spouse for remaining in the otherwise married relationship.  This is a biblical standard, not a new practice.

So the Church does not regard them as "living in sin" because of their marriage not being consecrated?
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« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2011, 12:19:02 AM »

The Church will not administer the sacrament of Matrimony to that couple, but it will not "punish" the Orthodox spouse for remaining in the otherwise married relationship.  This is a biblical standard, not a new practice.

So the Church does not regard them as "living in sin" because of their marriage not being consecrated?

Right.  The Church is grateful that the one member of the couple has come into Orthodoxy, and will support them as they witness to their unbelieving spouse the truth and love of Christianity.  If the spouse comes into Orthodoxy then the Bishop will decide whether or not to bless their marriage (usually they decide "yes").
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« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2011, 12:50:04 AM »

That seems to contradict the standard conception of marriage that is foisted at me as Orthodox.
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« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2011, 03:46:52 AM »

Not to stir the pot too much, but I have been told by a Japanese Orthodox priest that here in Japan Orthodox are allowed to marry non-Christians.  In fact, there are several such couples in the church I attend.  It is possible that the people the Orthodox partner in these marriages was not baptized until after the marriage but as both of them were raised in Orthodox families from birth, I doubt it.
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« Reply #15 on: March 01, 2011, 10:57:55 AM »

That seems to contradict the standard conception of marriage that is foisted at me as Orthodox.

"But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy."
(St. Paul, First Epistle to the Corinthians 7:12-14)
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« Reply #16 on: March 01, 2011, 11:14:09 AM »

That seems to contradict the standard conception of marriage that is foisted at me as Orthodox.

Except, as I mentioned earlier, for the explicit words of St. Paul. (Thank you, Benjamin the Red.)
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« Reply #17 on: March 01, 2011, 11:28:30 AM »

And there are very good reasons for this Orthodox approach, other than an attempt to spoil everyone's fun. While I'm sure that many people can supply anecdotal evidence of happy and successful marriages between people of differing beliefs, it can still lead to conflict. I saw it firsthand growing up, and it is extremely important to me that my husband and I share a common faith, even if we approach it or express it in totally different ways. My faith is the deepest and truest thing about me, and I wouldn't want it to become a source of conflict or compromise. Marriage is difficult enough without the added baggage.
Marriage is also, in the Orthodox understanding, a spiritual journey, with the couple helping each other on the road to salvation.
I think St. Paul's idea about being unequally yoked is right on, although since we mostly don't use oxen anymore, it does lose some of its immediacy.
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« Reply #18 on: March 01, 2011, 11:33:01 AM »

That seems to contradict the standard conception of marriage that is foisted at me as Orthodox.

Except, as I mentioned earlier, for the explicit words of St. Paul. (Thank you, Benjamin the Red.)

FYI, I think the same approach would hold if a spouse renounced Orthodoxy or even Christianity after a marriage while the other remained faithful. From a practical point of view, sustaining such a relationship would have its own internal dynamic and problems.
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« Reply #19 on: March 01, 2011, 01:12:26 PM »

Interesting.  Thanks.
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« Reply #20 on: March 01, 2011, 07:34:34 PM »

It's interesting that this comes up here now. There was a group of us with our priest a few days ago that talked about marrying non-Christians and non-Orthodox.

Father essentially told us that we could not marry a non-Christian at all. Period. The Church cannot bless it. Concerning marriage to non-Orthodox Christians, there was some wiggle room. Marriage to non-Chalcedonians is usually acceptable, as is marriage to Roman Catholics. He said he might (might) be all right with marrying an Orthodox to a very traditional and confessional Anglican, Lutheran or Methodist, depending on the specific situation. Then, he categorically rejected just about everyone else, specifically listing the Salvationists (Salvation Army), a local non-denominational megachurch and other low-church, non-sacramental confessions.


This depends on the jurisdiction and diocese.  Our priest may marry an Orthodox to a non-Orthodox Christian.  I believe there's something there about the non-Orthodox person needing to be a Trinitarian Christian: a Mormon or Unitarian for instance.   But whether it the church is liturgical, non-denom, or whatever doesn't seem to be an issue.  I've never heard these distinctions being made before.
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« Reply #21 on: March 02, 2011, 01:44:29 AM »

It's interesting that this comes up here now. There was a group of us with our priest a few days ago that talked about marrying non-Christians and non-Orthodox.

Father essentially told us that we could not marry a non-Christian at all. Period. The Church cannot bless it. Concerning marriage to non-Orthodox Christians, there was some wiggle room. Marriage to non-Chalcedonians is usually acceptable, as is marriage to Roman Catholics. He said he might (might) be all right with marrying an Orthodox to a very traditional and confessional Anglican, Lutheran or Methodist, depending on the specific situation. Then, he categorically rejected just about everyone else, specifically listing the Salvationists (Salvation Army), a local non-denominational megachurch and other low-church, non-sacramental confessions.


This depends on the jurisdiction and diocese.  Our priest may marry an Orthodox to a non-Orthodox Christian.  I believe there's something there about the non-Orthodox person needing to be a Trinitarian Christian: a Mormon or Unitarian for instance.   But whether it the church is liturgical, non-denom, or whatever doesn't seem to be an issue.  I've never heard these distinctions being made before.
I think you may have made a mistake in the above. Mormons and Unitarians are most definitely NOT Trinitarian "Christians". Wink
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« Reply #22 on: March 02, 2011, 07:13:34 AM »

It's interesting that this comes up here now. There was a group of us with our priest a few days ago that talked about marrying non-Christians and non-Orthodox.

Father essentially told us that we could not marry a non-Christian at all. Period. The Church cannot bless it. Concerning marriage to non-Orthodox Christians, there was some wiggle room. Marriage to non-Chalcedonians is usually acceptable, as is marriage to Roman Catholics. He said he might (might) be all right with marrying an Orthodox to a very traditional and confessional Anglican, Lutheran or Methodist, depending on the specific situation. Then, he categorically rejected just about everyone else, specifically listing the Salvationists (Salvation Army), a local non-denominational megachurch and other low-church, non-sacramental confessions.


This depends on the jurisdiction and diocese.  Our priest may marry an Orthodox to a non-Orthodox Christian.  I believe there's something there about the non-Orthodox person needing to be a Trinitarian Christian: a Mormon or Unitarian for instance.   But whether it the church is liturgical, non-denom, or whatever doesn't seem to be an issue.  I've never heard these distinctions being made before.
I think you may have made a mistake in the above. Mormons and Unitarians are most definitely NOT Trinitarian "Christians". Wink

LOL - yes a mistake in grammar.  They won't marry non-Trinitarians *like* Mormons or Unitarians.
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« Reply #23 on: March 02, 2011, 02:13:14 PM »

Is this statement true(?):

If an Orthodox marries a non-Christian person (e.g., a Jew, Muslim, Hindu, etc., or simply not religious), technically he or she excommunicates him/herself from the Church and is denied Church sacraments.
I notice the word "technically".
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