Monday, 8 August 2011

mixing religions with marriage

Many religions teach that it’s best to marry someone of the same faith and there are all sorts of pressures placed on people from religious communities and/or families to adhere to this ideal.  Some people treat their faith in such a way that it’s not a big deal to them, while others hold it in high regard.  

I read an article recently that covered 3 couples who had mixed religions.  Here’s a summary:

1.  Hindu & Seventh-day Adventist  They met at a self-development course, and over time fell in love.  They had 2 ceremonies – one Hindu and one Christian. They have agreed not to have any religious icons in their home like a Hindu prayer room, for example.  They respect and love each other, being careful to pull back and not let differences of opinion cause harm.  They intend to let their kids, when they’re born, know about both religions.
2.  Russian Orthodox & Jew  These guys shared a sense of humour and they fell in love and after changing her name and converting to Judaism, they married and are rather involved in the synagogue.  They eat kosher food and when they’re at grandma’s house their kids only eat fruit.  He appreciates that his wife converted for his sake, because it was a huge thing to do and something he admits he would not have been able to do for her. 
3.  Agnostic & Christian  Both these guys work for not-for-profit community focused organisations.  They met on a blind date, fell in love and married.  They don’t have kids yet but intend to, and intend to let both their views be known to the kids.  She feels like the ‘lonely woman’ at church and only attends certain activities, in consideration of him.  He is quite cynical about the church and thinks it highly unlikely there’s a God who cares if his footy team wins or if he finds a parking spot.  He knows the church is important to her, however says if she asked him to go to church it would be problem.

Regardless of our attitude toward it, mixed religious marriages are on the rise.  As the role of traditional religions in Australian culture also loses ground I expect that mixed religious marriages will be less and less of an issue for people.

There are 4 biggies couples argue about:

1.  The in-laws 
2.  How to bring the kids up 
3.  Finances 
4.  Sex  

Your religion has a considerable cross-over which can colour attitudes with respect to each of these things.  Differing belief systems could really cause fireworks!

So do I think everyone should marry within their own religion?  Hmmm, it's not so cut and dried.  I think it would certainly be a lot easier for a marriage to survive long term if the couple were of the same belief system.  And let’s face it, with so many marriages ending badly these days, it would make sense to give it the best shot possible.  I believe it’s a very important aspect of marriage and to not be on the same page would be like living with a weak spot where issues which rise are not that easily resolved.  

What do you think?  Do you think it’s important for people to marry within their own religion?

Sunday Telegraph Magazine, August 7, 2011: Merging Marriage and Religion (Felicita Benedikovics) 

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