Can a Protestant Marry an Orthodox?


Orthodox wedding couple wearing Stefana crowns and carrying candles

From an Orthodox perspective, Protestantism is a later attempt to return to the original faith after it was modified by medieval Catholicism. Since theological matters are quite confusing, the fact that interfaith marriages have continued to be embraced in modern society begs the question of whether a protestant can marry an Orthodox.

So, can a protestant marry an Orthodox? Ideally, a protestant Christian can marry an Orthodox Christian under some set conditions. First, the Orthodox Christian must be baptized, and, secondly, the wedding must take place in a protestant church. Typically, the political wrangles and doctrines that face churches today take precedence over every matter, including how one should marry and who they should marry. However, recent efforts have been made by protestant and Orthodox leaders to soften the blow on pointer denominational marriages.

While both churches’ rules remain the same, clerics have suggested that protestants and Orthodox can marry in either church with both clerical leaders present to officiate the marriage. Read on to find out more about interfaith marriages.

Can Orthodox and Catholic Marry?

While many think of Orthodox to be Catholics, there is a big difference between the two. One of the major differences is that the Orthodox believe that Roman Catholics deviated and reformed Christianity’s original form. Therefore, simple aspects such as marriages can be quite daunting and challenging when catholic and Orthodox couples want to marry.

So, can an Orthodox and Catholic marry? Ideally, a catholic and Orthodox can marry under certain circumstances. Since the two churches have different beliefs regarding marriages, a catholic who wants to marry an Orthodox should change faith for the wedding to take place in an Orthodox church and Vice versa.

Until recently, Orthodox populations lived in traditional Orthodox lands of the East Mediterranean and Balkanic Peninsula. Due to this, they had very little time to encounter other Christian faiths and traditions. Furthermore, Orthodox didn’t have any social or financial relations with the outside world.

However, Orthodox Christians’ real interaction with other Christians happened when Orthodox Christians fled their homeland due to political instability to find better living conditions in more prosperous countries in America, Europe, and Australia.

With catholic being one of the world’s biggest religions, it’s no surprise that Orthodox Christians were caught by surprise to learn of other religions that existed out there in the world. With social integration came the idea of weddings, which was a big challenge. In the 19th century, Orthodox Christians were forbidden from marrying Catholics. While the Catholic religion had evolved to embrace other denominations, the Orthodox were firmly rooted in their beliefs.

Fast forward to the 21st century, Orthodox believers have slowly embraced catholic Christians despite the big difference in their beliefs. While the Orthodox were strongly against the catholic papal system, the 21st century saw Popes being visited by Orthodox church leaders.

This integration has led to the acceptance of Catholics and Orthodox Christians to get married. However, since marriage is a Holy communion for both Catholics and Orthodox, one has to be baptized to get married in either religion.

Everything You Need To Know When Planning a Church Wedding

One of the most beautiful things about church wedding ceremonies is how sacred traditions vary across religions and cultures. Catholics, for example, perceive marriage to be holy matrimony and religious sacrament and specific, time-honored rituals. Before getting married in a church, you may be required to present certain documents, accomplish specific church-related activities, and go through an intensive wedding preparation with a priest.

While this might look pretty straightforward, getting married in a church isn’t a walk in the park. It can be more challenging if you are from different denominations. However, there are things that you should keep in mind when planning a church wedding.

What Are the Legal Requirements for a Church Wedding?

Legal requirements for a marriage in church greatly vary in many countries. However, it’s unanimous that you should have attained the age of 18 years and above to wed in a church in many countries. However, there are certain exceptions. For instance, in Wales and England, you need the approval of your parents to be wedded at a church if you are 16 or 17 years old. However, this is not the case in Scotland when it’s entirely legal to get married at a church wedding as long as there are two witnesses present.

When it comes to matters time, all church wedding ceremonies should take place between 8 am and 6 pm and should be witnessed by at least two people. Additionally, it’s mandatory to have your banns read before committing to each other in a church wedding to signify your intention to marry. Ideally, your banns reading should be done in your local parish and local church during the first three days and three months leading up to the wedding. 

The Interview

Typically, you and your fiancé should schedule an interview with your local church priest before your wedding. Essentially, this is the initial step towards being married in a church. The interview serves to ascertain your faith, your seriousness to wed, and to clarify on matters to do with dress code, bridal party, venues, and many others.

The interview also serves to iron out issues with interfaith marriages. If your partner is from a different religion, it’s paramount to disclose this fact during the interview. In most cases, if your partner is from a different faith (as is the case with Orthodox), she/he may have to convert first before the church wedding.

However, if you intend on a wedding at a catholic church, your non-Catholic partner doesn’t necessarily have to convert to wed. However, in such cases, the catholic partner will be obligated to raise the children as Catholics.

Finally, you will have to go through the prenuptial investigation. Ideally, this interview serves to establish whether the parties fully understand the basics of being married. You will be asked whether you agree to enter into the marriage freely and informed of your decision to have children is entirely up to you.

At the same time, since churches consider marriages to be a holy covenant with God, the prenuptial interview also examines whether either partner was married in church before. In some religions, you are only allowed to marry in church only once. In others, such as Orthodox, you can marry in the church up to three times.

Do You Have To Be Religious To Have a Church Wedding?

The issue of whether you have to be religious to wed at a church is quite complicated. It all boils down to which church you intend to wed in. On one hand, some churches are quite strict when it comes to being religious and devout.

A catholic wedding, for example, will require at least one partner to be a devoted follower of the faith. On the other hand, some churches don’t necessarily require either party to be devoted Christians. Such churches believe that spiritual matters are varied and complex; therefore, no one should be denied the opportunity to wed at a church.

How Far in Advance Should You Book Your Wedding Ceremony?

Just like civil weddings, a church wedding should be booked up months in advance. There is no particular time that is stipulated for one to book for a church wedding. Depending on the season, and church program, it’s important to ensure that you talk to your priest months in advance before setting your wedding date. This way, you’ll be in a better position to better plan for your wedding with a specific date in mind.

Finally

It’s no secret that there’s more to life than political or religious views. At the center of it all is your belief in your supreme being that matters the most. Although interfaith marriages can be quite complicated, the steps taken by some churches in embracing matrimonial cohesion by people of different faiths sets precedent for more open religious intermarriage in the future.  

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