Thursday, November 1, 2012

2012 Marriage and Family Report of the Greek Archdiocese

The interesting data is about 3 minutes in. Intermarriage with non-Orthodox at rates of up to 80% for the Greek Archdiocese. A continuous negative slope. How to grow the Church?


  1. I am surprised by your assumption here. I can think of a lot of people who joined the church after marrying an Orthodox person. I would bet that intermarriage with non-Orthodox is a net source of growth!

    1. It's not an assumption. Every set of data I have seen has shown intermarriage as a major source of decline in church attendance and affiliation. Certainly it's not always a negative for the Church, but it is far from an ideal situation.

    2. I can't help but wonder whether the data you cite show just correlation, and not casuation. It seems to me that it would be hard to show that intermarriage was a cause of someone's losing their ties to the church, rather than an effect of those ties never having been all that strong. That is, perhaps people who were not all that interested in staying part of the church when they grew up were more likely to marry outside the church.

    3. Well, let's pull data from the other side and use that. The number of Orthodox people that stay Orthodox when they marry other Orthodox is much higher than those that marry non-Orthodox. Also, the nature of marriage and the salvific path that is offered through that bond is quite a different thing when one person is inside the Church and the other person isn't. How do you help your spouse work out their salvation when you don't know what hope there is for it outside the Church? How do you pray together when the words and theology are not the same? How do you make decisions informed by the living Tradition of the Church when only one person submits to her wisdom?

    4. I think this is a case of correlation followed by causation. I mean, I think that Orthodox who marry non-Orthodox were probably (but not always) not that strong in their faith. There are certainly a small portion of these non-Orthodox spouses who convert soon after marriage but there can't be too many overall (and no, I don't have figures to back this up). Having a non-Orthodox spouse is not likely to strengthen one's faith so then you have causation. Other than having a very detailed poll I don't think you could sort out whether the larger fault were correlation or causation.

      It would seem that the main root of the problem is the initial weak faith of the Orthodox spouse. This is not just a phenomenon seen in Orthodox intermarriage, but also in Christian/non-Christian and Catholic/non-Catholic marriages. I have an initially Catholic aunt who married a Jew and it only worked (for a while, anyway) because neither was really practicing their faith. The children were whisked away secretly by the Catholic grandparents to be baptized but none are practicing now because there was no faith whatsoever in their home, whether Jewish or Catholic. I would be interested to see the figures on the faith of the children of these Orthodox mixed marriages.