Inter-faith Love and Marriages

In older times and even currently in more traditional families, couples were matched according to a number of criteria. Among them, religion was one of the most important aspects. It was generally considered harmonious and proper for a person to marry within their own religion. Today the world has changed dramatically. Many people live and work far from their original countries and globalism has greatly impacted the way we interact with other people. In turn, many couples who get together find that they are from different religious backgrounds. It can sometimes be difficult to successfully resolve these differences, especially when larger issues are raised, such as how to get married and which religion to raise the children with.

Handling Religious Differences

There are many different ways that couples deal with the differences in their religions. Let’s have a look at some of the most frequent methods that tend to crop up. Withdrawal is a choice that some couples make when they both stop practicing their respective religions. While this is sometimes advantageous in the short term, it could pose problems later on, especially if they decide to return to their religion. Conversion is another common option, with one spouse taking on the religion of the other. It can help to make the converting spouse more accepted into their new family, but at the same time they may feel a lot of conflict and unhappiness about leaving their own religion. A different method is to compromise where both partners join a completely new faith together. Alternatively, they could exist as a multi-faith family, where they both practice and share their religions with each other. This option is sometimes better since neither person feels like they have to give up a part of themselves. A slightly different variation is the ecumenical family where the two separate religions are combined to form a new set of traditions and beliefs within the family. The other option is diversity, where spouses respect the other’s desire to practice their faith independently without any compromise or change. If religion simply isn’t a major part of one or both partners’ lives, they may choose to do nothing and continue living as they are.

Beliefs and Policies of Different Faith Groups

Since many conflicts stem from differences in beliefs, it can be helpful to try to understand how each partner’s religion approaches inter-faith marriages. Pentecostal Christian churches generally try to convert the non-Christian in the couple before marriage. If this is not successful, they may be reluctant to perform the rites. The Baptist Christian church simply requires that the other partner concede to some beliefs, such as accepting that Jesus is God. Even so, they would counsel the couple during several sessions before the marriage. On the other hand, the Roman Catholic church is much stricter and would ask the non-Catholic partner to agree in writing that their children would be raised as Catholics. In comparison, Muslim religious rules are much different. Muslim men are allowed to marry Muslim, Christian or Jewish women, as long as all the children are raised as Muslims. Muslim women are only permitted to marry Muslim men (or a man who has converted to Islam). Similarly, Jews highly promote same-faith marriages in order to preserve their culture, especially since inter-faith marriages are forbidden in their holy book. Often when a practicing Jew marries someone outside of their religion, the other person has to convert before marriage. Hindus are much more liberal however, as they believe in minimizing the differences between people. Hindus can usually marry outside of their religion with less difficulty.

Facts About Inter-Faith Marriages

When it comes to measuring statistics on inter-faith marriages, there are a great number of variables to consider. For example, two people may differ in religion completely or they may simply belong to different denominations. They may also practice their faiths in varying degrees of activeness, or in some cases, not at all. It is estimated that in the United States today, roughly fifteen percent of all families are inter-faith ones and this number is increasing. More significantly, almost seventy-five percent of young adults believe that it is acceptable to marry someone outside of their religion. Roman Catholics do count for a majority religion in the U.S. and now approximately twenty-five percent tend to marry into other religions.

Inter-Faith Marriage References

  • Inter-Church Marriages – Learn how to make a marriage between people from different churches succeed.
  • Ecumenism – Ecumenism in inter-faith marriages can help couples resolve their differences in more peaceful manner than some other methods.
  • Inter-Faith Support – The National Association for Inter-Church and Inter-Faith Families was founded to help support families with different religious backgrounds.
  • Understand Islam – Non-Muslims who are planning to marry a Muslim can get some help in understanding the religion with a guide written specifically for those who do not practice Islam.
  • Resolving Religious Issues – Find out how to spot potential religious-based issues and resolve them in a harmonious manner before getting married.
  • An Inter-Faith Family Pamphlet (PDF) – Download a free pamphlet on issues that inter-faith families are often faced with and how to get past them.
  • Inter-Faith Resource Pack (PDF) – Before getting married, have a look at a helpful information kit to determine whether both partners are committed to living with each other’s religious beliefs and practices.
  • Marrying a Non-Jew (PDF) – Marrying a non-Jew can be intimidating for those with traditional Jewish families, but this helpful resource addresses issues that should be discussed with the family and the rabbi.
  • Catholic Inter-Faith Marriages – Peruse a list of requirements and documentation needed when a Catholic marries someone of another faith.
  • Preparing to Marry a Jew – See what topics need to be discussed and resolved before the wedding, how to arrange the ceremony and start a new life together.

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