Marriage & Baptism


In your answer to a question about Orthodox weddings, you said that an Orthodox believer could not be married in an Orthodox ceremony unless the partner was also baptized. The person who asked the question plainly said they were not a Christian. Does this mean that the Church would consider baptizing a professed non-believer just so they could participate in a ceremony?

I am currently a catechumen of the Church, and no expert, but I always thought being a Christian was really a matter of the heart, a personal decision that once made must change and color everything in your life, or it is worth nothing, no matter what ceremony or sacrament you participate in.


It is a fact that an Orthodox Christian cannot marry a non-baptized individual in an Orthodox ceremony.

Baptism, as a sacrament of initiation, is a spiritual birth, our entrance into the Church—a very serious matter. In no way does my answer imply that the Church would ever baptize a non-baptized individual simply so they could participate in a wedding in an Orthodox Church.

In answering these questions—the answers as they appear on the web site are often shortened and edited—I do try to leave the door open to the possibility of a genuine conversion and desire to seek baptism, and I usually end such questions in my personal answer to them by putting the questioner in contact with the nearest priest with whom they can discuss their concerns and specific situation personally.

In 25 years of priesthood, I have seen a number of non-baptized individuals in such circumstances come to the Church, take instruction, actively participate in the parish community, and eventually seek baptism—and in every case, so far as I can know, these individuals remain active in the worship and fellowship of the Church, sometimes with greater fervency and piety than their cradle Orthodox spouses.

The Church tries to leave every door open to those who, through their relationship with an Orthodox Christian, might find themselves seriously and honestly drawn to Christ and His Holy Church.

Regardless, an Orthodox Christian cannot marry a non-baptized individual in an Orthodox ceremony, even if the non-baptized individual professes Christ. From the Orthodox perspective, if one does profess Christ yet refuses to be baptized, he/she is in a sense rejecting participation in the death and resurrection of Christ, as Saint Paul calls it, while also ignoring Our Lord’s words concerning the importance of being “born again of water and the Spirit.”