Thursday, April 14, 2005

Orthodox blues

As I may have mentioned before, my wife (let's call her Maude) belongs to one of the Eastern Orthodox churches. For her, church is inextricably tied in with her ethnicity, which I suspect is the case for most people outside of America. This makes the whole idea of changing religions much more problematic. For her, I suspect it would be like losing a part of her identity.

This notwithstanding, she is shopping around for other denominations. Why? Because her church does not recognize our marriage. Even though we were married in an Orthodox church, it was done by an unorthodox priest (ironically) who didn't require me to get rebaptized. As far as the official church is concerned, we are living in sin, and all basically because they don't consider me a Christian.

I have no problem with them not recognizing my baptism as valid. We, after all, don't consider theirs to be valid either. But it boggles the mind that a Church would refuse to recognize a marriage solemnized in one of their sister churches. (To be fair, there are a million different permutations of Eastern Orthodoxy, and we were married in a different branch than that to which my wife belongs.)

It seems odd to me that they don't recognize any marriages except those between Mainstream Christians to be valid. As more and more people inter-marry outside their ethnicity, this seems like a good way to lose members fast.


Greek Lover said...

Your story sounds like the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". That guy didn't really believe in the church, he just went through the motions so he could be married in it (including being baptized again in a kiddie pool).

I think the there was something recent about how the Catholic church just decided to re-bapitize Mormons who convert to Catholicism. Although Mormons have never recognized anyone else's bapitisms.

pencil said...

My sister (who was raised Mormon) is dating a Catholic boy. She joined the Catholic church a couple of weeks ago and she had to be rebaptized. People at the ceremony who had been baptized into other Christian denominations didn't get rebaptized, they just had the other rites for the first time, but the Mormon baptism isn't considered valid.
I don't think the Catholic church would think they were living in sin if they married before she was baptized, but if they want a church wedding (and it does look like marriage may be a possibility down the road), they both have to be Catholic.

m said...

i say just revel in the idea of living in sin. it has a little ring of dangerousness to it. perhaps knowing that you're living in sin can spice up your love life, or help you and your wife get your nasty on, so to speak.

NFlanders said...

Pencil-- I'm not sure. I'll have to ask my wife (she went to 6+ years of Catholic school), but it was my understanding that weddings that aren't held under Catholic auspices don't really count. I'll have to check on that one, though.

M-- We actually don't need to revel in that fact, as we lived "in sin" together for 5 years or so before we were married. That is probably a big reason why I didn't go to church during that time.
But that might be a whole other post.

NFlanders said...

According to my wife, who is admittedly fallible when not speaking ex-cathedra, Catholics and Eastern Orthodox don't much care about two people of other denominations, but when one person is Catholic (or, Eastern Orthodox for the E.O. church) they have to be married to someone in communion with the Catholic church (or E.O. church) for it to count. Otherwise you are just living in sin.