35533The Church’s View of Mixed Marriages
- Nov 18, 2013
A bird may love a fish, but where will they build a home together? Tevye, from Fiddler on the Roof
The July 24th (1988) issue of The Church Messenger, published by the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Diocese iv the U.S.A., carried an article entitled "Perspectives in Marriages to Non-Christian Spouses" by Fr George Papaioannou of the Creek Archdiocese. The thrust of this article is that Orthodox Christians may marry outside the Faith. Fr. George wrote in part as follows:
"Living in a pluralistic society such as ours, we cannot ignore those who marry outside the Church Like a good shepherd, the priest has to serve them. Yet, there are others who find this approach condemnable. Is it? On the contrary, this writer believes that this approach is justified by both the Bible and the history of the Church."
Having made this statement, however, Fr George fails to back it up. The only justification he offers from "the Bible and the history of the Church' in support of mixed marriages is a passage from St. Paul's first Epistle to the Corinthians:
If any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any Woman has a husband who is an unbeliever and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him; for the unbelieving husband is consecrated by his wife and the unbelieving wife by the husband. (1 Cor. 7:12 13)
The implication here is that, since St. Paul mentions mixed marriages, the early Church must have permitted believers to marry non-believers. But this was not the case. In St. Paul's day, the vast majority of Christians, including the Apostles and even Paul himself, were converts. They had come into the Church of their own volition as adults. And many of them were already married and had families before they were baptized. Since one's convictions are a very personal thing, it naturally follows that the decision to become a Christian did not always come to both husband and wife simultaneously in every family. Thus it was that the Church in St. Paul's day included a significant number of couples in which one partner had embraced the Faith and been received through baptism months or even years before the other. And that is how we must understand this passage of Scripture.
source: Orthodox America
George C. Thomas