Greek Orthodox Male Marrying Coptic Egyptian Female

Hello fathers and members,

I need some guidance/information between the marriage of a Greek Orthodox male and Egyptian Coptic Female. If we were to marry in say a Coptic church would we be able to go through both ceremonies Greek and Coptic? Would it be possible to have both priests in a Coptic church? Is that disrespectful? Would we be able to go through the holy trinity and reefs of the Greek tradition and also go through the crowning of the Coptic tradition?

If we were to have children after marriage of course Would they be able to partake in both churches? I know it’s frowned upon to baptize twice but is that even a thing?

I want to make her happy and marry in her church but I don’t want to lose my traditions and church with it. I also want to please my family just as she wants to please hers. Coptic traditions seem to be stricter(no offense) I just don’t want to disrespect anyone and I want to see what is possible and what is not. I do love this woman and would love to be crowned with her and go through my greek traditions with her as well.

Thank you.


  • We’re not even in Communion! So none of those things are possible!
    To marry a Copt, your baptism into the Coptic Orthodox Church is first required :)
    If you convert, convert because of your personal relation with Christ and ability to find Him more in the COC, not for marriage, as that is not even accepted.

    +God Bless+
  • from greek (or any eastern orthodox) church, only chrismation is needed (holy oil), not baptism.

    i was a church when a greek lady was chrismated who later married a Coptic orthodox man. she said she really liked how we explain everything well and 'take the faith seriously'.

    some people think that means it is more 'strict', but that is only if you feel forced to do it. if you fast and pray because of your great love for God, it does not feel strict at all.

    if you look at any of the writings of saint john chrysostom (one of my big heroes, who was patriarch of constantinople/istanbul), you can see that he continually reminded the people (in the greek language) that they should give to the poor and love God and come to church out of a desire to know God and to tell others about Him, not to fulfil any obligation or feel compelled.

    he is famous in our church and I strongly recommend you read his sermons and booklets, many of which are available in english online. you can see then some of what our traditions have in common.

    jojohanna is right in saying that you should not change churches for the sake of a romantic relationship. ask God what is best for your life, and if you make Him  your priority, then everything else will become much more straightforward and you will know which direction to take.

    if my advice sounds strange, then ask God to show Himself to you and spend time seriously studying the Bible and the works of the early church fathers like saint basil, saint cyril (x2) and saint Athanasius to see what i mean. knowing God is more about personal experience than following a particular tradition, although the orthodox churches have (all) preserved the correct faith (straight belief) that explains God's relationship with people adequately.

    in some places (eg syria, and I think alexandria as well), mixed couples can attend either church, but that is not currently the case in most diaspora churches (you write in english, so I think you may be in an english speaking country).

    so speak to both priests and meet people from both churches to see where you will make your home (could be either) and certainly you can attend services in both churches when you wish. but currently in the diaspora, you would not be able to take holy communion in both churches, so you need to pick one.

    even when my dream comes true and we have full communion (i know a priest in the greek church who is also eagerly waiting to give me holy communion!) then you need to have one 'base' or 'home' church where you spend most of your time. this is for the sake of the unity of the family.

    we have an enemy who loves to create conflict and division, so don't give him a change by starting married life comparing you priests and getting into a 'my church is better than yours' competition. you need to have a church you both call 'mine'.

    above all speak to God. He knows and loves you, he took on a human nature and suffered terribly for you. He defeated death and the power of the enemy for you. surely He will guide you in the right path when you come to Him humbly, repenting of the bad things we all do, and asking His help as you put your life in His hands.

  • edited May 2020
    Thank you for the replies. I love my church and I know she loves her church. I do not compare the churches because I speak to her friends and I know how devoted they are and the passion that comes from it. I admire it. I will check the writings that you suggested. I do not wish to convert for the cost of marriage. I do wish to attend both churches and I do know I cannot take communion in a Coptic church.

    Thank you again. Any other information regarding marriage between us that I would need to know is very much appreciated.

    And why is their a split between our churches? Does it have to do with the bishops? Also a question I have is why can the males not sit with the females? Is it because of how life was back in the day in Egypt? I’m sorry for all these question I’m just very interested.
  • edited May 2020
    @Aflo I suggest some reading on the subject of our separation from an Eastern Orthodox perspective. A Swiss Eastern Orthodox woman under the Patriarchate of Constantinople named Christine Chaillot has a number of great books on the Coptic church. She offers a much fresher perspective on the dialogue of the churches. Her newer one is called:

    The Dialogue between Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches International Edition

    And she has a wonderful book from 2005 which is an introduction to the Coptic church. It's very concise and practical compared to many books within our church, because she is fluent in both English and French. So, the translation is extremely easy for a westerner to grasp. It's called:

    The Coptic Orthodox Church: A Brief Introduction to Its Life and Spirituality.

    I highly recommend it for an Eastern Orthodox person to learn about the Coptic church.

    As for our separation, here is a YouTube with Mrs. Chaillot at a Anglican seminary in Toronto, with an Eastern Orthodox Priest and guests from the Oriental Orthodox family. Play past when the female Pastor talks and then they begin to explain about the relationship between the churches.

    Good Luck!
  • briefly, the roman emperor wanted more control, so used to church to get it.
    the churches in west asia came under his control, but the egyptian church did not.
    the theology was used as an excuse to split the churches.

    on reflection over the 1 1/2 thousand years since the split, the leaders of all the orthodox churches have agreed that they are all orthodox (Christians with correct belief. this was in 1989-1990) but have not yet got round to undoing their excommunications of each other.

    as for the separate seating, it is cultural. i have attended a coptic orthodox liturgy (in uk) without separation of men and women, and a protestant church in pakistan where there was separation. often in coptic orthodox weddings and non liturgical services (such as night praises), at least here in uk, men and women do mix. 
    for guests who want to sit together, it is usually culturally acceptable for them to all sit towards the back on the men's side.

    once one of the church council members (he was like everyone's uncle) instructed me to sit on the front row on the men's side next to a visiting anglican priest, so i could explain what was going on as it was a service with minimal translation into english (small church) and the men who usually look after visitors were busy with other things in the meeting.
    i felt uncomfortable doing it, as i has just go used to sitting with the ladies after a few years of regular attendance and everyone stared at me as i walked past them down to the front! 

    italiancoptic is a font of useful information about theology, joining the church from outside (he was catholic, i was protestant) and mixed cultural marriage. so i advise you to take all his advice!
  • It's accepted if they accept us. Metropolitan Abba Pishoy and Father Tadros Yacoub Malati said so. We made an agreement with the former Greek Orthodox patriarch of Alexandria called "common marriage" or something like this.
  • i think that is just in egypt unfortunately.

    however, since the virus outbreak, the churches seem to be making a little more progress.

    people are just so happy to see another orthodox Christian from any orthodox church since they were kept away from church for so long.

    also in my church, we no longer have gender separation in liturgy as we can fit in more people (keeping the rules of keeping different households apart) if families sit together. i doubt we will go back to it after this (at least in countries where it normal for men and women to sit together).

  • At my old church, a visiting bishop (I believe it was BG Anba Karas, but I don’t remember) reprimanded the congregation for not splitting the men and women between the north and south halves of the church, but he didn’t give an explanation. Now my new church is much bigger and has 4 seating sections (2 northern and 2 southern), and the de facto rule is that the back rows are for people who would not like to be separated by gender. All this is to say it’s regional and all dependent on the bishop and priest of your respective churches.
  • I would like to do some research on this.. I am aware that on twitter one of my contacts did suggest that this is not cultural at all and it had origins in what the apostles had handed down from Christ. There are some icons in the Catholic Church depicting that segregation which have been painted as late as the seventeenth century I believe but this needs more research..
    Ⲟⲩϫⲁⲓ ϧⲉⲛ Ⲡϭⲥ
  • I believe there are apostolic canons for such a seating arrangement. It's not culture. Research will need to be done thoo
  • St Cyril of Jerusalem mentions that ppl sit on different sides of the church based on gender. It’s in his catechetical lectures published by St Vladimir’s Seminary Press. I can’t remember the exact page but it’s definitely in there.
  • edited July 2020
    I've seen it depend on various regions as well. Smaller or mission churches which may be in a rented space or another denomination's church tend to not have separation. At the Monastery (Convent) the nuns tend to sit in the south and everyone else sits behind the Deacons on the north.

    Before Covid-19 I had the blessing of serving every week, a majority of the time on the Altar. After, I attend another parish and do not dress. Seeing how my son was acting and trying to sing along with the hymns and screaming in between, I'm in favor of having parents sit together.

    I am more upset about electric candles being used on the lecture and being held on the Altar, than men and women being separated. Now I have The Offspring song stuck in my head.
  • Dear @ItalianCoptic,
    I am so pleased someone else is making this argument other than myself. A few years ago I argued against electric candles (as they are commonly used in the church in Newcastle where I used to go in the past) in addition to the use of iPads, mobile phones and TV screens within the church and surprise surprise I received a deluge of criticism and sarcasm.. Oh well, I look forward to more of that now that I have mentioned it..
    Ⲟⲩϫⲁⲓ ϧⲉⲛ Ⲡϭⲥ
  • just remember that in some churches (e.g. in cyprus), the sides are switched.

    so always sit near the back till other people come in, so you can check you are on the correct side!

    i could put up with electric candles (and flashing LED lights on the icons - urrgh!) if only we could have full communion between all the orthodox churches...

  • My old church used electric candles to comply with the lease and fire marshal rules (we were not allowed to have “roaming candles”, aka any live flame that wasn’t mostly stationary. We had to fight for the shoria to be an exception), and my current church has 2 in our chapel for any young deacon to use.. we’ve seen too many videos of a 7-year old with a candle lighting a katameros (or, God forbid, another person!) on fire to risk it :))

    As for flashing LED lights on the icons.. I hope that’s a joke. The Saints deserve more honor than flashing rainbow lights. And in the same vein, I’ve seen more and more altars with LEDs attached to the underside. Is this allowed? It seems to me like desecration of the Altar.
  • It’s a pity, but it is not possible. You should choose one Church, where you go all your life with your future wife. Or you will have family problems with wife and future children because of different churches.
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