Polite dialogue and tolerant coexistence are important for communities living alongside each other, when religious groups can at least go home to their separate realities, but when you live with a different faith as closely as you do in an interfaith marriage, just politely agreeing to differ is difficult.
For a peaceful life it might be a very good rule never to argue about religion or criticise any of your partner’s deeply founded beliefs, but given the crucial matters at stake, it’s not surprising that at times for many people the need to ‘get it right’ matters more than being polite.
Religion is not only like a mathematical theorem we believe to be true, it also imbues that truth for us with a sense of sacredness and reverence – attitudes of respect that we most likely learned in childhood and that are often linked to our most intimate and defining sense of identity.
This means that the kind of conversations interfaith couples have and maybe need to have at some time or other about religious truths and differences may also risk causing one or both considerable distress
Religions themselves may encourage this, because they tend to be imperative – telling us how we ought to live, and what we ought to teach our children. But religious texts also use different moods and emphasise different values: kindness, tolerance and wisdom above all are the virtues of home life and the ethics most needing to be emphasised in an interfaith home.