Sunday, October 10, 2010

Why Orthodox may not be for me.

Though I find Orthodox theology easy and pleasing to the soul, one of the reasons I have a difficult time with it, is for fear of this story.

Meet Katherine and Edward

Katherine (30) and Edward (29), have been happily married for three years. Katherine is a psychotherapist, with Protestant roots, who entered the Greek Orthodox Church about five years ago. Edward owns his own bicycle shop. He refers to himself as a “non-practicing Roman Catholic.” He attends Katherine's church periodically. They have no children.

When asked to describe some of their interfaith challenges, Katherine began to offer some background information. “I first heard about Orthodoxy while attending a workshop on spirituality. Even though the workshop leader was not Orthodox, he spoke with admiration about Orthodoxy, and his remarks piqued my curiosity.” She pauses, overcome by some emotion, then continues. “I tried many types of faith experiences that didn't seem like a good fit. But with Orthodoxy, it was different. Almost from the beginning, the information that I read about the Orthodox Church made me feel like I had finally found a home.”

Listening attentively, Edward responds. “That's true. My wife loves her Faith, and I respect that about her. But, I'm different. I feel more comfortable with God on a mountain trail, or when I'm fly fishing one of the local trout streams. I'm not very religious. I go to church occasionally with Katherine because I know she appreciates it.”

“That's also true,” Katherine remarks. “And at first, that was so hard for me. We almost didn't get married because my faith meant so much to me. And Ed's faith was so, well -- nominal. Only after a great deal of personal struggle, and some guidance from my pastor, did I finally consent to accept his proposal. And I'm glad I did, because I feel as though that's what God wanted.

After another pause, Katherine continues. “And it’s not been easy for many reasons. But one of the hardest things was finding a place for myself in the Orthodox Church, then getting married, and trying to cultivate my own religious development while also helping my husband to adjust. He was really put off by all the emphasis on culture, and the unfamiliar rituals. For a long time, he questioned me about it. But over time, we kind of got over this, and we’re now attending together on a more regular basis.”

Another pause, then Katherine again continues. “I guess the liberal amounts of English that are used in our church, along with the genuinely warm and welcoming atmosphere towards newcomers, helped us find a home here, and have kept us both coming back. I know this is a Greek Orthodox Church, but I don’t come to church because I'm interested in becoming Greek. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I come because I love Orthodoxy. I would come even if a good part of the liturgy were done in Greek. But, I know that it would be really hard for Ed, so I'm glad there is a lot of English used here.”

Ed nods in agreement, then adds, “Ed nods in agreement, and adds, "I probably wouldn't be here talking with you if Katherine's Church didn't use as much English. As silly as it sounds, this made a big difference for us. English makes me feel more comfortable. It also helped me crack what I call the cultural barrier, so I could begin meeting some of the many wonderful people who come here. And even though I'm definitely not ready today. Who knows, when the kids arrive, I might even consider becoming Orthodox. But that's still a good distance away."

I could easily see myself with this problem, except perhaps with greater difficulty. The change in culture won't affect just me. I fear my conversion would lead to spiritual death, if I did not have a home with like mind.


  1. Would you mind my asking what about this article is the reason Orthodoxy may not be for you? I'm not asking to try to convince you otherwise - just trying to understand.

    BethAnna (Quietmorning)

  2. Goodmorning! I'm glad to have found your beautiful blog.

    To me it sounds like the couple in the article is similar to many marriages where one of the spouses has the gift of faith and the other is being brought along with patience and prayer.

    In my own circle of friends, I have seen miracles happen after many years of prayer by a believing spouse. One friend in particular had a spouse that was hardened toward the faith, and has reverted in no small part due to the prayers of the wife and children. Oh yes, it was difficult at times. It was rocky and tearful sometimes too. But in the end, it was worth every moment of suffering for the spouse. That is what marriage is about anyway. Praying and sacrificing for our beloved to one day get to Heaven.

    The wonderful thing about the couple in this article, is that the unbelieving spouse is allowing her to practice her faith and has promised at the altar to bring future children up in the faith as well.

    God is very patient and kind. He works faithfully in marriages as He is the 3rd Person in the marriage. His mercy is endless. I have great hope for this couple working their way toward God! They will remain in my prayers, as will the author of this blog. I hope to stop by again soon!

  3. Sorry for the long delay in giving you a response.

    The story personified part of the fear I have over the cultural differences Orthodoxy often offers. This fear is a seperation between me and my wife, not just over faith, but also over a cultural barrier. Whether or not this would be actualized, the source is a fear, and thus helps paralyze and give pause to becoming Orthodox.

    Thank you for the kind words, I hope you've visited here again. Your words are truth, and rely on a trust in God to give strength to the faithful and answer prayers. I admit my own passions (in this case fear) has at times caused pause and conflict with where He may be guiding me.