What If I Marry a Non-Orthodox Christian?

What If I Marry a Non-Orthodox Christian?

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Question: What is the impact on my life if a marry a non-Orthodox Christian?

This is a great question and common to many people. Sometimes, some people fall in love with a person who is not of the same faith as them.  That’s ok!  While there may be differences in opinion about your choice of spouse, it’s almost impossible to change your heart.  The most important factor, however, is that you do not alter your faith.  There are many things to consider!

Marriage within the Orthodox Church

According to the tradition and teachings of The Church,  marriage is a choice of life that can lead spouses into a life of Christ through the Sacrament of Marriage, and eventually, all the Sacraments of the Church.  The wish of the Church is for all people to be united in Christ, making their home an extension of the Church herself.   The prayer is for a couple to raise children, by God’s grace, and to allow them to become faithful leaders and participants in the Church of Christ.  For these reasons, for centuries, the Orthodox Canon Law discouraged intermarriage of any type. Moreover, Orthodox faithful who chose to inter-marry, forfeit their sacramental participation in the Church.

Inter-Christian / Denominational Marriages  

Even though we follow the teachings of the Church with great seriousness, She, in Her wisdom, allows for discernment and oikonomia  in allowing for people to marry someone else of a Christian and Trinitarian Doctrine.  Despite some difficulties someone may have in this decision, please know, the Church is here for you! Consult the wisdom of your local priest, and discuss this matter if you seek advice! There are many people that marry non-Orthodox spouses, but there are many things to consider.  The following directives should be taken into account, as you remain in good Canonical standing in the Orthodox Church:

  • The wedding must take place in an Orthodox Church
  • The non-Orthodox spouse is not required to convert to Orthodoxy if they do not wish, however they must have been previously baptized in the Trinitarian Doctrine, and in the name of the Holy Trinity.
  • During the meetings and direction with your local priest, you should discuss the importance of marriage, and raising your future children in the Orthodox Church.
  • Assuming that similar discussions have taken place, the non-Orthodox spouse should feel comfortable with these directives, and willing to have an open heart when learning of the Orthodox traditions and faith!

Marriage of a non-believer or non-Christian 

While the above instructions are regarding marriage within the Church, we understand that there are some circumstances where a couple chooses to not have their marriage performed in the Church.  As mentioned earlier, the Church is here for you.  You should never feel rejected or excluded.  When considering your marriage, please consult with your local priest.  The life in Jesus Christ is for all people, and participation within the Sacraments is our connection to God Himself.  If you are struggling with the love that you have for a non-believing spouse, remember that God may be calling you to save their soul.  Marriage is calling that one has to make their spouse a more faithful loving person.  In our mercy, love, and peace (that Christ calls us to have) we may be a shining light that was missing in the life of our spouse!  Pray for your spouse! Pray for enlightenment that can be given by the Grace of the Holy Spirit.  God’s will shall be revealed in your prayers, your discussions with loved ones, and especially with the guidance of your local priest!.

May God bless you and your approaching marriage, and we pray that Christ is present in your wedding, as He was at the Wedding of Cana!

About author
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Fr. Demetrios Kazakis

Fr. Demetrios Kazakis was born in Syracuse, NY and grew up in St. Sophia and Her Three Daughters Greek Orthodox Church. He graduated from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in 2011, with a Masters in Divinity. He graduated from Hellenic College in 2008 with a BA in Religious Studies. Prior to beginning at HCHC, Fr. Demetrios received an Associates Degree in Broadcasting & Communications from Oswego State University in 2005. Fr. Demetrios was ordained a Deacon in 2011, by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios at Kimisis Theotokou, Brooklyn, and was later ordained a priest in 2012 by His Grace Bishop Andonios of Phasine. He married his wife Presvytera Dianna Doukas in 2009 and they have three children; Andrew, Eleni & Stephen. Fr. Demetrios is the parish priest of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, West Babylon, NY where he has served since 2012.