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Author Topic: Converting while in a relationship?  (Read 1298 times) Average Rating: 0
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AustralianDiaspora
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« on: January 29, 2013, 11:35:48 AM »

Hi everyone!
I just have a quick question as this has become a concern for me as of late. I have been studying Orthodoxy for . . . well, a long time, and since beginning my study have started a new relationship with someone who isn't Orthodox either. Out of necessity, we are living together. We are happy etc. My question is; is my living with my partner going to be a barrier to my becoming Orthodox?

I am aware that my relationship is not chaste and that this is a barrier, but if that aspect could be remedied, would I still be able to be baptised or would I need to end this relationship? Someone who is cradle Orthodox suggested to me that it's the latter, which is a huge concern.

Thanking you in advance
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« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2013, 11:44:44 AM »

Whether you would have to end the relationship or rather set it aside while preparing for baptism would be the call of your priest.
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« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2013, 11:46:15 AM »

Talk to your priest about it. ASAP.
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AustralianDiaspora
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« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2013, 11:51:35 AM »

There would be an issue with setting it aside as we live together. I'd be willing to do it but in the practical sense it would be a very big hurdle. I do have an appointment this week to see my Priest, but I am worried about what he may say and was wondering if there was a standard way of handling these situations? I'd be like to be prepared when I speak to him XD

edit: As an aside, I've seen a post here by someone is not Orthodox but his wife converted. Is marriage outside the Orthodox church considered less sinful than unwed relationships? This persons' wife was baptised and there was no mention of them separating during the process.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2013, 11:52:33 AM by AustralianDiaspora » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2013, 12:05:36 PM »

There's not an echo here - you really do need to discuss this with a priest. That said, I know of several instances in my own parish where cohabiting couples who became Orthodox were told in no uncertain terms to separate. Most chose to separate or get married in the Orthodox Church - one chose to leave the Church.
You ask, if non-Orthodox marriages are less sinful than living together without being married? Seriously? What do you think?
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« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2013, 12:08:39 PM »

If the church only considers Orthodox marriages to be marriages of God then I would say there would be precisely no difference between being married in a different church, having a non-religious marriage and living together in a committed monogamous relationship.

I should have mentioned; my partner wants to learn about Orthodoxy as well. If he was not we would not be together now. I am however further along in my interest and commitment than he.
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« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2013, 12:14:21 PM »

1. Just say what you want and need to say to the priest, openly and honestly. Let him advise you, and take his advice.

2. If a couple married outside the Church and neither was Orthodox at the time, they are still considered married if one or both later convert. Some priests might suggest a church wedding or blessing after conversion, but this is not universal.

If an Orthodox person marries outside the Church (whether his/her spouse is Orthodox or not), that marriage is not recognized by the Church. Many priests might also consider that the Orthodox spouse(s) have separated themselves from the Church in doing so.

Orthodox marriages between an Orthodox and non-Orthodox may be permitted in certain situations, usually if the non-Orthodox spouse is Roman Catholic, traditional Anglican, and, in some jurisdictions, traditional Lutheran. But, again, such marriages are approved on a case-by-case basis. Non-Christians are forbidden to be married in an Orthodox service, unless they convert first.
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AustralianDiaspora
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« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2013, 12:21:03 PM »

Thank you for that information. My main concern is the fact that my Priest has thought, often rightly, that I wasn't as committed to Orthodoxy as I should be. It is true that my commitment has wavered over the years (yes, years!) though a large part of that was also my own issues with depression and anxiety which, Glory to God, I am finally learning to manage. So I guess what I mean is, will he just give up on me? That's what I'm particularly concerned about. My hope is that he will permit us to live together (as the practical implications of living in different houses is enormous) provided we are chaste perhaps even sleeping in different rooms. Is this a possibility?
I know I really need to ask my Priest and this is largely speculation but . . . I am so anxious about it!

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« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2013, 12:35:08 PM »

I will just wish you good luck and like the rest says: speak to your priest about this. You may not like what he says to say, but I am sure that you will need to hear it.

Will pray for you.
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« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2013, 01:48:56 PM »

Thank you!
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« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2013, 03:05:45 PM »

but I am worried about what he may say

That's the sin of pride, we all have it. We all want to hear what we want to hear and do what we want to do. Whatever the priest tells you, be obedient to it, even if that means moving out. There is a bumper sticker that reads, "Orthodoxy - Christianity, only harder." That's no lie, the narrow path is not easy. You have to ask yourself, what's more important, your own comfort and not having many hurdles. Or letting go of your comfort and going over many hurdles for the love of Christ and having 100% faith He will lead you on the right path. Let go of your worries and trust in Him, be like Job.

I wish you the best and pray all will turn out according to the will of Our Lord.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2013, 03:08:07 PM by Peacemaker » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2013, 03:13:29 PM »

to the OP I would only add a very pedestrian caveat: no need to place any importance on what Internet monkabees think you should do. And if you think that priest would ask unreasonable things of you, no need to go into details with him.
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« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2013, 03:17:45 PM »

to the OP I would only add a very pedestrian caveat: no need to place any importance on what Internet monkabees think you should do. And if you think that priest would ask unreasonable things of you, no need to go into details with him.

Please forgive me if I have done anything to you that lead you to call me such a hurtful name.

I very much doubt that a priest could condone to someone living with someone else who they are not married with. If anything, they may ask him to move into a different room and sleep in separate beds. Either way, what you think is unreasonable and what God thinks are two different things. If the priest tells you to do something and it doesn't go against the Holy Scriptures, I would do it. If what the priest tells you is wrong, you have no need to worry, he will be judged for that, not you. He takes that weight off your shoulders, but he does it for what is best for your spiritual development.
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« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2013, 04:02:03 PM »

1. Just say what you want and need to say to the priest, openly and honestly. Let him advise you, and take his advice.

2. If a couple married outside the Church and neither was Orthodox at the time, they are still considered married if one or both later convert. Some priests might suggest a church wedding or blessing after conversion, but this is not universal.

If an Orthodox person marries outside the Church (whether his/her spouse is Orthodox or not), that marriage is not recognized by the Church. Many priests might also consider that the Orthodox spouse(s) have separated themselves from the Church in doing so.

Orthodox marriages between an Orthodox and non-Orthodox may be permitted in certain situations, usually if the non-Orthodox spouse is Roman Catholic, traditional Anglican, and, in some jurisdictions, traditional Lutheran. But, again, such marriages are approved on a case-by-case basis. Non-Christians are forbidden to be married in an Orthodox service, unless they convert first.

Or if the spouse is sortadox or Christanything or says they won't stop the kids from attending the parish. Really, the comments above do not reflect what I have known about the Orthodox Church especially the GOA (which I had the most contact with before I even care about such stuff).

Some jurisdictions seem more strict as do some parishes.

As usual, your mileage may vary.
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« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2013, 04:54:37 PM »

If an Orthodox person marries outside the Church (whether his/her spouse is Orthodox or not), that marriage is not recognized by the Church. Many priests might also consider that the Orthodox spouse(s) have separated themselves from the Church in doing so.

This varies.  My priest told me that marriage is marriage, and if an Orthodox couple gets married outside the Church then they are married.  But also excommunicated.  But they are married.
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« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2013, 05:11:10 PM »

If an Orthodox person marries outside the Church (whether his/her spouse is Orthodox or not), that marriage is not recognized by the Church. Many priests might also consider that the Orthodox spouse(s) have separated themselves from the Church in doing so.

This varies.  My priest told me that marriage is marriage, and if an Orthodox couple gets married outside the Church then they are married.  But also excommunicated.  But they are married.

Interesting.

I wonder if this would apply to marriage contracts of a purely civil nature.
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« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2013, 05:48:57 PM »

If an Orthodox person marries outside the Church (whether his/her spouse is Orthodox or not), that marriage is not recognized by the Church. Many priests might also consider that the Orthodox spouse(s) have separated themselves from the Church in doing so.

This varies.  My priest told me that marriage is marriage, and if an Orthodox couple gets married outside the Church then they are married.  But also excommunicated.  But they are married.

Interesting.

I wonder if this would apply to marriage contracts of a purely civil nature.

According to him, historically marriages were not done in the Church, but rather when two Christians become married (as per the local custom and laws), then it is a Christian marriage.  The marriage rite came later.  So he says why treat it differently today?  But the Church demands that those in the Church be married in the rite of the Church, thus the canons would punish those who do not follow it.  But that does not mean it is not a marriage.  Also there is this thing about marriage "validity" which is not a concept the Orthodox Church has.
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« Reply #17 on: January 29, 2013, 05:56:56 PM »

How long is the exocommunication if someone marries outside of the Church but still wants to be a part of the Church?

EDIT: Anyhow, for the OP, the best thing to do is to contact your spiritual father about this and see what he says. Chances are you will be presented with three options; either a) break up with the partner and confess for fornication, b) marry the partner, c) continue living with the partner but refrain from having a sexual relationship. Either way, it's probably going to be something drastic.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2013, 05:58:57 PM by JamesR » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: January 29, 2013, 06:00:51 PM »

How long is the exocommunication if someone marries outside of the Church but still wants to be a part of the Church?

Your priest and bishop will decide this I guess.  It would depend on your reason for bypassing the Church for marriage.
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« Reply #19 on: January 30, 2013, 05:53:01 AM »

Thank you for your thoughtful replies, everyone.

When I say that living separately would be inconvenient, I mean it would result in my partner being homeless. For context, there is a housing shortage where I live so it's not as simple as 'putting up with the inconvenience'. It would mean moving to a homeless shelter. I am more than happy to make a drastic change such as sleep separately until we get married, it just needs to be something we can actually achieve! Thinking about it, I suspect the 'crunch time' of this issue so to speak will come up later when we start discussing baptism. Either way, I am sure God will provide a way.
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« Reply #20 on: January 30, 2013, 10:41:57 AM »

If an Orthodox person marries outside the Church (whether his/her spouse is Orthodox or not), that marriage is not recognized by the Church. Many priests might also consider that the Orthodox spouse(s) have separated themselves from the Church in doing so.

This varies.  My priest told me that marriage is marriage, and if an Orthodox couple gets married outside the Church then they are married.  But also excommunicated.  But they are married.

Interesting.

I wonder if this would apply to marriage contracts of a purely civil nature.

According to him, historically marriages were not done in the Church, but rather when two Christians become married (as per the local custom and laws), then it is a Christian marriage.  The marriage rite came later.  So he says why treat it differently today?  But the Church demands that those in the Church be married in the rite of the Church, thus the canons would punish those who do not follow it.  But that does not mean it is not a marriage.  Also there is this thing about marriage "validity" which is not a concept the Orthodox Church has.

IIRC, marriages were indeed not performed in the very early Church - only civil marriages were performed. However the couple would seek and receive the blessing of the Bishop for their marriage afterward.
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« Reply #21 on: January 30, 2013, 10:48:30 AM »

Hi everyone!
I just have a quick question as this has become a concern for me as of late. I have been studying Orthodoxy for . . . well, a long time, and since beginning my study have started a new relationship with someone who isn't Orthodox either. Out of necessity, we are living together. We are happy etc. My question is; is my living with my partner going to be a barrier to my becoming Orthodox?

I am aware that my relationship is not chaste and that this is a barrier, but if that aspect could be remedied, would I still be able to be baptised or would I need to end this relationship? Someone who is cradle Orthodox suggested to me that it's the latter, which is a huge concern.

Thanking you in advance


I entered the Church under the same conditions, and, while I can't promise things will be the same for you, it didn't present a serious obstacle for me. The priest I met with said that he would prefer us to live separately until we were married, but if that was not financially feasible, he would not let it be an obstacle to my reception into the church. I was baptized and then, about a year afterward, we were married in the Church.
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AustralianDiaspora
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« Reply #22 on: January 30, 2013, 12:58:42 PM »

^^ that's very encouraging Smiley
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« Reply #23 on: February 01, 2013, 07:45:29 AM »

So I met with my Priest today
and he said it wasn't ideal but we can proceed with catechism etc. and if it all works out then my partner and I can get married in the Orthodox church eventually. His exact words were "the church won't stop supporting you" !! So happy you guys <3
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« Reply #24 on: February 01, 2013, 08:51:33 AM »

So I met with my Priest today
and he said it wasn't ideal but we can proceed with catechism etc. and if it all works out then my partner and I can get married in the Orthodox church eventually. His exact words were "the church won't stop supporting you" !! So happy you guys <3

Was there a discussion about being in different beds until marriage?

This reminds me of one of the Church fathers who walked out of Church because another man was denied to stay because he was a sinner and the Church father said "I to am a sinner."
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« Reply #25 on: February 01, 2013, 10:34:09 AM »

So I met with my Priest today
and he said it wasn't ideal but we can proceed with catechism etc. and if it all works out then my partner and I can get married in the Orthodox church eventually. His exact words were "the church won't stop supporting you" !! So happy you guys <3

Was there a discussion about being in different beds until marriage?

This reminds me of one of the Church fathers who walked out of Church because another man was denied to stay because he was a sinner and the Church father said "I to am a sinner."
That's amazing!
There was no mention of any measures like that in the mean time, I presume because we're in a committed, monogamous relationship. I'm sure if we were just dating it would be more of an issue.
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« Reply #26 on: February 01, 2013, 12:03:02 PM »

I'm sure if we were just dating it would be more of an issue.

I wouldn't be so sure about that. The grassroot-level of Orthodoxy is very lenient.
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« Reply #27 on: February 02, 2013, 03:46:08 AM »

I'm sure if we were just dating it would be more of an issue.

I wouldn't be so sure about that. The grassroot-level of Orthodoxy is very lenient.
Not my Priest  Cheesy he's insisted I stop other things in the past (for my own good of course).
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« Reply #28 on: February 02, 2013, 04:36:51 AM »

I'm sure if we were just dating it would be more of an issue.

I wouldn't be so sure about that. The grassroot-level of Orthodoxy is very lenient.
Not my Priest  Cheesy he's insisted I stop other things in the past (for my own good of course).

Be glad that you have a priest like that. Smiley
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« Reply #29 on: February 02, 2013, 06:32:29 PM »

I am glad your priest is like that. Remember that a priest`s calling is to herd his flock and see to it that they live accordingly to the word
of God. We should also encourage you, but..I cannot speak for anyone other here: I can just encourage them to support you like any good
christian should and wish you the best of luck on your journey (I do wish you good luck).
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« Reply #30 on: February 03, 2013, 11:30:08 AM »

I am certainly very blessed! Thank you for your good wishes. I am very thrilled and excited to be continuing as a catechumen and am gently nudging my partner along as well. Once English Liturgy and Catechism start for this year things will be easier, at this point it's just me who wants to attend three hour long services I can't understand  Cheesy
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