The Error of Allowing Mixed Marriages
(Marriages of Orthodox with the Heterodox)

Scriptural Quotes Against Mixed Marriages

A wife hath been bound by law for as long a time as her husband liveth; but if her husband should repose, she is free to be married to whom she doth wish, only in the Lord. [1 Cor. 7:39]

Cease becoming unevenly yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership hath righteousness and lawlessness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what consonance hath Christ with Belial? Or what portion hath a believer with an unbeliever? And what common disposition hath a temple of God with that of idols? For ye are a temple of the living God, even as God said, “I will dwell in them, and walk about in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be to Me a people.” Wherefore, “'Come out from the midst of them, and be separated,' saith the Lord, 'and cease touching the unclean thing,' and I will receive you, “'and will be a Father to you, and ye shall be to Me for sons and daughters,' saith the Lord Almighty.” [2 Cor. 6:14-18]

Writings of the Holy Fathers Against Mixed Marriages

St. Ambrose of Milan, Epistle 19, To Bishop Vigilius of Tridentum (2, 7-8):

“And in the first place remember that it is the Church of God that is committed to you, and be therefore always on your guard against the intrusion of any scandal, lest the body thereof become as it were common by any admixture of heathen... Wherefore you must instruct the people that they should contract marriage not with strange-born but with Christian families...But there is scarce any thing more pernicious than marriage with one who is alien to the Church; already the passions both of lust and disorder, and the evils of sacrilege are inflamed. For seeing that the marriage ceremony itself ought to be sanctified by the priestly covering and benediction, how can that be called a marriage when there is not agreement in faith? Since their prayers ought to be in common, how can there be the love of a common wedlock between those whose religion is different? Often have men ensnared by the love of women betrayed their faith, as did the Jews in respect of Baal-phegor. For which cause Phineas took a sword, and slew the Hebrew and the Midianitish woman, and appeased the Divine vengeance, that the whole people might not be destroyed. And why should I bring forward more examples? I will produce one out of many, from the mention of which will appear what an evil thing it is to marry a strange woman. Who ever was mightier or more richly endowed from his very cradle with God’s Spirit than Samson the Nazarite? Yet was he betrayed by a Philistine woman (not of the Old Testament Church), and by her means failed to retain God’s favour.”

St. Jerome of Bethlehem, Treatise Against Jovinian, Book 1:10:

“Yet at the present day many women despising the Apostle’s command, are joined to heathen husbands, and prostitute the temples of Christ to idols. They do not understand that they are part of His body though indeed they are His ribs. The Apostle is lenient to the union of unbelievers, who having (believing) husbands, afterwards come to believe in Christ. He does not extend his indulgence to those women who, although Christians, have been married to heathen husbands. To these he elsewhere says, “Cease becoming unevenly yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership hath righteousness and lawlessness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what consonance hath Christ with Belial? Or what portion hath a believer with an unbeliever? And what common disposition hath a temple of God with that of idols? For ye are a temple of the living God...”

Although I know that crowds of matrons will be furious against me: although I know that just as they have shamelessly despised the Lord, so they will rave at me who am but a flea and the least of Christians: yet I will speak out what I think. I will say what the Apostle has taught me, that they are not on the side of righteousness, but of iniquity: not of light, but of darkness: that they do not belong to Christ, but to Belial: that they are not temples of the living God, but shrines and idols of the dead. And, if you wish to see more clearly how utterly unlawful it is for a Christian woman to marry a Gentile, consider what the same Apostle says, “A wife hath been bound by law for as long a time as her husband liveth; but if her husband should repose, she is free to be married to whom she doth wish, only in the Lord” that is, to an Orthodox Christian. He, who allows second and third marriages in the Lord, forbids first marriages with a Gentile. Whence Abraham also makes his servant swear upon his thigh, that is, on Christ, Who was to spring from his seed, that he would not bring an alien-born as a wife for his son Isaac. And Ezra checked an offence of this kind against God by making his countrymen put away their wives. And the prophet Malachi thus speaks, "Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the Lord which he loveth, and hath married the daughter of a strange god. The Lord will cut off the man that doeth this, him that teacheth this and him that receiveth the teaching, out of the tents of Jacob..." I have said this that they... may at least know that such marriages as these are even more base than digamy and trigamy.”

Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky)

In 1906, the blessed then-Archbishop and later Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) declared: "The Church must not allow mixed marriages of Orthodox with heterodox, who are most evil heretics... But if the state will allow such marriages and if they will be concluded by dint of state law, then those married must be excommunicated from the Church". (Quoted in Sergei Firsov, "Russkaia Tserkov' nakanune peremen", Moscow, 2002, p.; 240).

Canons of the Church Forbidding Mixed Marriages

CANON 10 of the Council of Laodicea (4th century A.D.)

Concerning the fact that persons belonging to the Church must not carelessly and thoughtlessly give their own children to marriage with heretics.

CANON 31 of the Council of Laodicea (4th century A.D.)

That one must not intermarry with any heretics, or give one’s sons or daughters to them, but rather ought one to take theirs, if they should promise to become Orthodox Christians.

CANON 14 of the 4th Ecumenical Council (5th century A.D.)

Inasmuch as Anagnosts (Readers) and Psalts (Chanters or Psalm-Readers) in some provinces have been permitted to marry, the holy Council has made it a rule that none of them shall be allowed to take a heterodox wife. As for those who have already had children as the result of such a marriage...let them no longer think to have any right to baptize them with heretics, nor indeed to contract a marriage with a heretic, or a Jew, or Greek idolater, unless they first promise and bring about the conversion to the Orthodox Faith of the person to be joined to the Orthodox Christian. If, on the other hand, anyone transgresses this rule of the holy Council, let him be liable to a Canonical penalty.

CANON 72 of the 6th Ecumenical Council (7th century A.D.)

Let no Orthodox man be allowed to contract a marriage with a heretical woman, nor moreover let any Orthodox woman be married to a heretical man. But if it should be discovered that any such thing is done by any one of the Christians, no matter who, let the marriage be deemed void, and let the lawless marriage tie be dissolved. For it is not right to mix things immiscible, nor to let a wolf get tangled up with a sheep, and the lot of sinners get tangled up with the portion of Christ. If, therefore, anyone violates the rules we have made let him be excommunicated. But in case persons who happen to be still in the state of unbelief (i.e., infidels) and to be not yet admitted to the fold of the Orthodox, have joined themselves to each other by lawful marriage, and then, one of them having chosen the good start by running to the light of truth, while the other, on the contrary, has been held down, by the bond of delusion for having failed to welcome the choice of gazing at the divine rays (whether it be an infidel woman that has looked with favor upon a man who is a believer, or vice versa an infidel man upon a woman who is a believer), let them not be separated, in accordance with the divine Apostle: “For the unbelieving husband hath been sanctified in the wife, and the unbelieving wife hath been sanctified in the husband; for otherwise then your children are unclean, but now they are holy” [1 Cor. 7:14]

By Dormition Skete, Buena Vista, Colorado.


The Life of Saint Juliana of Nicomedia
The Patroness to Pray to Avoid Mixed Marriages

On the 21st of December,
the holy Church commemorates
the holy Martyr JULIANE of Nikomedia,
together with
FIVE HUNDRED MALE MARTYRS
and ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY FEMALE MARTYRS,
who were slain by the sword.1

Saint Juliana of
  Nicomedia

Juliane (Juliane), the glorious martyr of the Lord, was from Nikomedia of Bithynia.2 She lived during the reign of the profane Emperor Maximian (286-305). Juliane was the scion of a notable and distinguished family. She was endowed with a beautiful countenance, and her ways and mannerisms both were commendable and bespoke her love of virtue. In addition to her moral excellence, she was God-fearing, which is most remarkable since her father and relatives were Greek idolaters. Her mother, however, revered neither the idols nor Christ, but remained doubtful and wavering.

Though Juliane’s father vehemently despised the Christians and warred against them mightily, the most modest Juliane perceived matters differently. The ever-memorable one, as one cognizant of the world and nature about her, when beholding the earth, the heaven, the air, and the sea, and the other creations of the Lord, sought the Fashioner of all these entities. Then, after having managed to obtain copies of the Epistles of the Apostle Paul, whom she adopted as her teacher, she came to understand, by means of the creation, there was but one Creator, when she read: “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived by the things which are made, both His eternal power and divinity [Rom. 1:20].3 The all-wise maiden then said to herself, “If there is only one true God, He it is Whom I should worship and revere; whereas, the idols, as the cause of destruction, I should loathe.” After she had deliberated thus, her words were followed by actions. She looked down upon every bodily concern and desired only what was spiritual. At all times, she could be found reading the divine Scriptures, praying, or busy at some other God-pleasing endeavor which she performed eagerly.

At that time, the governor of Nikomedia was one named Elevsios. He was not only a great friend of the emperor, but also a diligent worshipper of the demons. It was to this same man that the parents of Juliane, now eighteen years old, had betrothed her when she was nine. Without knowing her judgment or conduct of life, he was anxious to consummate the marriage. The holy maiden, however, sent him a message, telling him not to have any hope of having her as his wife, if he were not first elevated as prefect of the city. Now Juliane expressed this condition of marriage, hoping to create a pretext to prevent the marriage. If he managed to attain to this rank, she would insist on a loftier dignity. Since Elevsios was a captive of her love, he achieved the office of prefect after paying a considerable sum of gold. Having done so, Elevsios then sent Juliane a message informing her that her bridegroom was the recipient of a more splendid position.

Upon receiving his message, Juliane wrote: “If thou wilt not worship my God and Master, seek another yoke-fellow; for this is all that I want for a dowry and for my wedding gifts.” Learning this, Elevsios was greatly vexed. Elevsios then sent for Juliane’s father, whom he threatened to do ill if he did not compel his daughter to satisfy his desire. Thus warned, Juliane’s father sorrowed and hastened to his house without delay. He did not immediately display his anger, but first plied her with flattery to turn her to a different way. He said, “Tell me, my most sweet daughter and the light of mine eyes, why dost thou not want the wedding to take place, but disdainest the prefect?” Juliane answered, “If Elevsios will not first share in my beliefs, it is not fitting that I should take him as my spouse; for how is it possible to unite our bodies, while our souls are at war?” This response maddened her father, and, irritated, he said, “What folly, O mindless girl! Dost thou desire to receive ten thousand torments? I assure thee before the great gods Apollo and Artemis that I shall render thy body to be eaten by dogs and wild beasts!”

Christ’s athlete replied, “Tarry not, but collect as many beasts as thou dost wish, and deliver me over to as many deaths as thou canst contrive, for I desire to receive much benefit. If I die for Christ many times, then I shall enjoy many rewards in Paradise!” Then her terrible and dastardly father put her to the test through flattery but failed. She then interrupted him, and said abruptly, “Peradventure, thou art as thy senseless gods who, having ears, hear not my words? I told thee and I affirm that, if Elevsios will not adore Christ, I shall never have fellowship with him.” The saint’s father, observing that words alone were to no avail, locked her inside a dark dungeon. At night, he asked her if she had changed her mind. However, she steadfastly replied, “I shall not pay homage to senseless sculptures, but shall render worship and reverence to my Christ Who is true God.”

Provoked to anger, her father left off speaking. Then as an enemy, and not as a father, he gave her a mighty and pitiless beating. He then surrendered Juliane to her betrothed that he might do with her as he desired. After he had received the holy maiden of such unattainable beauty into his authority, his wrath and madness were placated. Then, having forgotten his former vexation, he spoke to her with much gentleness, saying, “Do my will, O most sweet bride, and agree to become my spouse that thou mightest be delivered from torments. Moreover, if thou dost not wish to adore the gods, we shall not compel thee on this issue. It is enough that we marry.”

Juliane then answered, “Not any word, neither torment nor the peril of death shall persuade me to be coupled with thee, if thou wilt not receive divine Baptism and become as I have, perfectly Christian.” Juliane had read the admonition of Saint Paul: “Cease becoming unevenly yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership hath righteousness and lawlessness? And what communion hath light with darkness [2 Cor. 6:14]?” Thus, as a true disciple of the apostle, she believed these God-inspired words of sacred Scriptures and was willing to give her life for them. The desires of Elevsios, however, even after hearing the words of Christ’s witness, were kindled, and he said to her with a mild tone, “The truth is, my beloved maiden and most desired, I would do thy will in this matter, out of my love for thee, if it did not endanger my life. This is because if I should do this, as soon as the emperor learns of it, straightway, I shall not only be deposed from the office of prefect, but he also shall give me over to the most bitter death.”

The saint answered, “If thou dost fear the mortal and temporal emperor who is unable to touch thy soul, but only chastise thy body, how can I not fear the immortal and heavenly Master of all kings, Who has authority over everything that has breath and life? How can I disdain such a King and receive a man who is His adversary? If thou hadst a beloved slave who contracted a marriage with thine enemies, wouldest thou not be offended by him and despise him as one treacherous? Therefore, be not led astray and have no hope in me. Lose not thy time to try me with compliments and threats. However, if thou dost wish, come to my God and believe; otherwise, slaughter me, burn me with fire, scourge and cut my flesh, set beasts to pull me to pieces, and contrive the most dread punishments for me; for I loathe thee and consider intercourse with thee to be the grave and death.”

Hearing such declarations, not only kindled the fire of desire in Elevsios, but also inflamed him with such anger that it rendered him a wild beast, as often happens to those spurned in love. Therefore, he commanded that four men stretch the holy maiden with bands. Others were directed to beat her entire body mercilessly with dried rawhide, until the executioners grew weary. This took place, and, though the strength of the men failed from administering the thrashing, that blessed maiden was only more deeply confirmed in her resolve. She neither feared the scourges nor grew timid in any way.

Elevsios then bade his men to withdraw from Juliane, and he said to her: “These things, Juliane, are an introduction to the torments which await thee. By this example, know what will follow if thou abidest unpersuaded to the end; furthermore, if thou wilt then change thy mind, know it will be for nought.” Saint Juliane answered, “Do as thou dost wish, O senseless and mindless one, for better it is that I suffer all the torments of the world than be joined with thee!” The venerable maiden was then suspended by the hairs of her head for that entire day. This caused her skin to draw back, so her eyebrows were atop her forehead, rendering her a pitiful sight. Driven by passionate love, the prefect besought her again by plying her with diverse flatteries. Beholding that he was laboring in vain and to no benefit, he tortured her worse than before.

After iron implements had been heated, they were placed under her armpits, on her sides, and on her thigh bones. These burning implements were then bound to her body; and then, bereft of care and treatment, she was consigned to prison. Within her cell, Juliane suffered the mighty pains brought about by that intolerable torture. Lying on the ground, she prayed thus: “My Lord God, Ruler of all and the almighty One, even as in days of old Thou didst deliver the Prophet Daniel, the Three Children, and Thekla the First-martyr from fire and wild beasts, and every other torment, do now stand beside me and deliver me from such dreadful chastisements and from those that war against me, O invincible King!”

After she had prayed thus, the devil appeared before her in the guise of an angel, saying, “Many are the terrible chastisements devised for thee by the prefect, which thou wilt be unable to endure. Therefore, when they remove thee from here, go to the altar and sacrifice.” The martyr then asked this creature’s identity. He answered, “I am an angel of God Who sent me to tell thee to do the word of the tyrant, so that thy body might not be evilly destroyed. God is compassionate and desires to forgive thee by reason of thy bodily weakness.” At these words, the martyr greatly marvelled, for she beheld what appeared to be an angel, but what she heard was the counsel of the devil. Thereupon, she sighed from the depths and wept, saying, “Lord and Creator of all, before Whom the angels hymn and the dark demons tremble, disdain me not and allow me not to be deceived by the wicked devil, but reveal to me the identity of this being who counsels me in this manner; for I perceive he feigns being Thy slave and minister.” Speaking thus, forthwith, she heard a voice from on high, saying, “Take courage, O Juliane, for I am with thee and shall give thee strength to vanquish the tempter who shall be made to confess the truth unto thee.” Upon hearing the voice, the miracle straightway took place. The holy maiden was loosed from her bonds, the iron implements fell away, and the devil was shown to be fettered in a marvellous manner. Courageously, she took hold of the devil and interrogated him as a wicked slave. She asked him who he was, why he came, and who sent him.

The devil, the lover of lies, scourged by an invisible power, quickly told the truth. He said he was one of the chief devils sent by his father, Satan, to deceive her; for she had dealt him many blows with her brave contests. At the end, that accursed creature said, “I deceived Eve. I incited Cain to slay his brother. I set Herod to slay the innocents. I influenced Judas toward betrayal and suicide. I converted the Israelites into idolaters and turned the wise Solomon into a fool and plaything of passion.” Hearing these claims, the martyr spat upon him. Juliane then glorified God and, not only grateful for having been healed of her wounds, she also offered thanksgiving unto Him for having delivered her from the devil’s wiles.

The following day, the prefect dispatched men to bring the prisoner to the judgment hall – that is, if she were still alive. The martyr went rejoicing, the devil being dragged invisibly behind her. When the prefect beheld her completely restored and healthy, he was astonished and said, “Tell us, when and from whom hast thou learned the magic arts to work such wonders?” The martyr answered, “This has not taken place by human cunning, but divine and ineffable power, which has shamed both thee and thy father, Satan. That divine power, which works in me, is superior to thine and the artifices of Satan whose power has been proven inferior. Thus, thou wilt neither escape here the power of Christ nor there where are prepared a fearful fire and cruel Tartarus, together with darkness, worms, and other dread torments!”

When the prefect heard the word “fire,” he prepared a fire, a temporal flame. A strong furnace was readied with plenty of wood and other flammable materials. Then Christ’s invincible martyr was cast inside. Straightway, as they flung the blessed maiden into the flames, she raised her eyes to God and wept. Then, the tiny drops of her tears fell upon that raging inferno, as though they were an incessant and great river, and extinguished the flames. This awesome and fearful wonder was witnessed by the people of Nikomedia. Then, five hundred men, with one voice, exclaimed, “One is God, the God of the Martyr Juliane, Whom we also revere, though we be put to death by fire or sword!” Hence, the prefect directed that all of them receive death by decapitation. Similarly, there were also women, numbering one hundred and thirty, who, confessing Christ as God, were slain.

The prefect, boiling with rage, then immersed the holy maiden in a cauldron of boiling lead. Divine grace, however, preserved the martyr intact. Then, in an extraordinary manner, the boiling lead poured over and spilled upon the faces of the soldiers and spectators. Thus, divine vengeance was justifiably visited upon those of ill-intent when they were burned and died wretchedly. Beholding the executioners dreadfully wasted and dissolving before him, that wretched and terrible prefect was demonized from his excessive anger. Unable to overcome one delicate maiden, whom he deemed weak and powerless, he tore at his clothing. Then, he, who was the most senseless, uttered imprecations against the gods, naming them powerless, feeble, and senseless.

The tyrant then surmised within himself that if he subjected Juliane to further torments, he would not come out ahead. On the contrary, more people would come to believe in Christ. Hence, he would receive even more injury and scorn. He then gave the final sentence – beheading. The gloriously triumphant Juliane then walked happily to her death. She sensed immeasurable sweetness and joy; for she would now be delivered from the sorrows and vanity of this present life. She would now depart this life and go on to that blissful and most delightfully good life of Paradise.

On the path to the execution site, she taught those following her to prefer the love of Christ above all things. She counseled them to be ready to endure all torments and even death, so they might win and gain everlasting life. Upon arriving at the site, she first prayed. Then, the holy maiden lowered her neck before the executioner, without displaying any sign of a sad or angry countenance. Indeed, she appeared joyful and filled with good cheer. Then the victorious prize-bearer and all-round athlete, Saint Juliane, had her head struck off. Thus, the beautiful and wise Juliane reigns and rejoices forever amid inexpressible sweetness, delight, and joy. May we, too, be vouchsafed eternal life, by the compassion and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom is due all glory, honor, and worship to the ages of ages. Amen.

Now there was a woman, wealthy and of high repute, from Rome, named Sophia. By God’s providence, she happened to be in Nikomedia for some necessary matter. She beheld all the events surrounding the martyrdom of Saint Juliane. She took up the holy relics and built a very beautiful church in her memory at Rome, as a tribute to her contests and struggles.

Within days, the vile and unjust Elevsios rightfully received divine judgment. While he was on a sea voyage with many other passengers, they encountered mighty swells. All on board, save Elevsios, suffered drowning; for he was to receive greater punishment. After clutching a loose plank of the ship, he was washed ashore in some deserted place. It was there that the wretch became the prey of wild beasts. Thus, writes Saint Paul: “Beloved, avenge not yourselves, but give place to wrath; for it hath been written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' saith the Lord [Rom. 12:19; Deut. 32:35].”

Endnotes:

[1] The Life of this saint was recorded in Greek by Saint Symeon the Metaphrastes [P.G. 114:1437-1452]. The text is extant in the Athonite monasteries of the Great Lavra, Iveron, and in other places. The text was rendered in simpler Greek by Agapios the Cretan, who published it in his Eklogion.

[2] Nikomedia, modern Izmit, is a town of Turkey and capital of Kocaeli vilayet, fifty-four miles east of Constantinople (Istanbul).

[3] The pagans knew that there was a God, but each, in whatever sense he thought God was, glorified and served Him in his own manner. Thus they corrupted the whole matter of worship by their peculiar and mistaken ideas. They abandoned God’s way of knowing Him and preferred their own way. Saint Chrysostom comments that “the knowledge concerning Himself hath God placed in men from the beginning,...that having learned the beauty of the things which were seen, they might mount up to God.” [Homily 3 on Romans, P.G. 60:449 (col. 412).] Saint Basil the Great: “You will find that the world was not devised at random or to no purpose, but to contribute to some useful end and to the great advantage of all beings. It is truly a training place for rational souls and a school for attaining the knowledge of God. Through visible and perceptible objects it provides guidance to the mind for the contemplation of the invisible.” [Homily 1(6), On the Hexaemeron, FC, 46:11.] Saint John of Damascus: “The very creation, by its harmony and ordering, proclaims the majesty of the divine nature.” [An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Bk. 1, Ch. 1, FC, 37:166.]

This life was taken from The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church, December Volume, published by Holy Apostles Convent, Copyright 2003, all rights reserved, used with permission.

The Great Synaxaristes is available for purchase from http://www.HolyApostlesConvent.org.


Archbishop Gregory
Dormition Skete
P.O. Box 3177
Buena Vista, CO 81211-3177
USA
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