Psychology of Religion

Psychology of Religion

Endless questions can fill people's minds when they are looking for love. When is too early to call? Where should the first date be? What about a first kiss? What to wear? Finding a meaningful relationship can take a toll on the psyche.

Those devoted to their religion have another layer of rules and conventions to add into the mix. Religious views on issues including who to marry, birth control, abortion and pre-marital sex vary depending on which faith is practiced, and the level to which potential matches believe their faith should be observed. Even relationships outside the one between the couple can be affected, such as those with family members and religious communities as a whole.

Religions on Finding Love

Catholicism, Protestantism and Judaism, which represent the top three religions in the United States, oppose marriage between two people from different religious backgrounds, and Islam and Mormonism also recommend that their faithful marry one another. Despite these edicts, religion remains less of a determining factor in marriage than race. Not surprisingly, the dating population that seeks a religious connection can at times feel conflicted and can be psychologically affected by their choice in interpersonal relationships.

Catholic Relationships

Birth control, even in marriage, is a big topic in religious relationships. Some dating servicesfor those seeking Catholic mates require users that sign up to be dedicated to marriages that focus on life, which means no birth control and absolutely no abortion. Stress can occur in Catholic and Christian relationships when unexpected pregnancies occur, especially when finances will make another child difficult, and the couple has fewer options. For women who must carry these children, the stress can be magnified; though for some couples, a reverence for life makes for a closer, more intimate connection, and larger families with a strong bond.

Courting in the Muslim Faith

For Muslims in America, it can be difficult to navigate the American culture they live in and the extent to which they feel they must express their spirituality. Individual decisions on how strictly they feel called to exhibit their faith can impact relatives with different views. For example, a devout Muslim woman who wants her parents to match her with an orthodox Muslim man will have some difficulty if her sister is seeing a non-Muslim man. The orthodox family may look down upon the woman’s family because of her sister’s non-orthodox relationship, even if her sister is rarely in her life.

  • “Keeping Their Religion”: The University of Chicago Magazine examines how Muslims in America are adapting to American culture, including the challenges of relationships, while staying true to their religion.

The Mormon Philosophy

In the Mormon faith, teens are not allowed to date until age 16 and are not expected to get into a serious, marriage-minded relationship until boys have completed a mission or girls graduated high school. Sexual relations are confined to marriages only, which take place in a sacred temple only open to those who have shown their commitment to the Mormon faith. This can cause problems when non-practicing family members are not allowed to be in the temple during a Mormon couple’s wedding, and can strain familial relationships and cause stress during the planning stages of the union.

Latter-day Saints are also expected to get married because it is ordained by God, and therefore the only way to experience the highest level of divinity in the afterlife. They also believe that married partners are eternally linked, so courtship tends to be taken more seriously from the start. Rather than strictly fun, irreverent outings, dates are used to size up a potential infinite match. It is also advised that youth not begin having relationships with the opposite sex until they are mature enough to consider marriage. There are also suggested places, times and amounts to spend when they do go out, which may feel limiting to some teens. For instance, activities must be wholesome, the date must not take place on a school night and the expense must only be modest.

  • Courtship by Brent C. Miller and H. Wallace Goddard: A guide from Brigham Young University about the traditions of Latter-day Saints.
  • Dating

Issues in Judaism and Buddhism

Alongside theological differences between faiths and the level to which each individual practices, there are times when looking for love within a specific religion has a psychologically claustrophobic effect. Case in point: Lisa Seidel, a Jewish health researcher and writer who documented this feeling in Brandeis University’s 614, an electronic magazine for Jewish women.

Seidel signed up with an online dating website that connects people of the Jewish faith. There were several occasions Seidel’s friends had married someone a mutual friend had already dated. The same man from the site sent Seidel and her roommate the same message and virtual bouquet on the same night. She even inadvertently emailed an ex’s brother. Though there are benefits of a tight-knit community, she admits, at social functions there are often moments where she recognizes a complete stranger from the person’s online profile, and vice versa. In this way, looking for a meaningful relationship based on a religion can make people feel psychologically exposed.

For Buddhists, problems can arise when trying to find mates who take the religion seriously. Many daters looking for a connection via the Internet report that others who list Buddhism on their profiles are merely trying it on for size, but don't necessarily have a deep passion for the tenets. It can make Buddhists feel isolated or like there is no one out there for them with the same views.

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