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Eastern Orthodox/Conversion while married to non-Christian


Dear Sir,
I have a question for you about converting to the Eastern Orthodox faith. I realize the answer MAY (although not necessarily) vary from one church to another. If it does, please say so!

My question is: if a non-Orthodox Christian marries another non-Orthodox Christian, can either of them join the Orthodox Church if only ONE of them is joining and not both? In other words, do both husband and wife have to join the Orthodox Church for either to join?

Secondly, does the answer change if the spouse (Obviously the one NOT joining the EO) is not a Christian at all? Thank you so very much for your time!


The stories of the saints give us many examples of people who became Christian even though their spouses were not. St. Monica, mother of St. Augustine, prayed for many years for the conversion of her pagan husband. There are several stories of wives who became Christian and were dragged before the local pagan authorities by their husbands and even tortured and killed for their faith. So yes, one can become a member of the Church whether or not one's spouse agrees with the decision, as long as that person is willing to deal with the possible consequences.

Holy Scripture is very clear on this on this. According to the Holy Apostle Paul:

But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. (1 Corinthians 7:12-14)

Now if a person becomes Orthodox before they get married, they are expected to marry a Christian to be considered a continuing member of the Church, but that is a different thing altogether.

Your servant,

Eastern Orthodox

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I can answer general questions about the teachings of the Orthodox Church and Orthodox monasticism, particularly differences from Protestants and Catholics.


Orthodox Christian convert from Protestantism over 30 years ago.

American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese

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