What loyalty is more important to you – your family and your own faith or your partner who is of another? You probably cannot decide; many people in interfaith relationships find their perception of other faiths tilted, and they don’t share the distance that those of their own community feel towards their partner’s group. But when things are difficult in the marriage the distance between faith communities can reinforce problems, particularly if members of those communities didn’t support the marriage in the first place.
People in interfaith relationships often feel marginal, and even a kind of homesickness. If your relationship means you are going to be marginal, can you cope with isolation from community? You may long to be accepted and reincorporated into your faith, but this may not be possible, either because by ‘marrying out’ you have entered into a forbidden territory, or because you feel there is no going back.
Why do some communities worry about interfaith marriage?
There is a very basic anxiety about numbers, that interfaith marriages mean fewer people belonging to the faith in the future. There are also concerns about the dilution of rich and unique religious worlds and traditions. Some people are worried that interfaith couples and their children are going to lack something which is tremendously valuable, or that they will put together their own ‘pick and mix’ belief system, or even end up with no faith at all. There’s also a fear that many people with hybrid or half-baked beliefs may impact on religions themselves. Some cultures accept interfaith marriages more easily than others. In some parts of Africa it is much more acceptable than in most communities of the Middle East or the Indian Subcontinent.
What the community means to me
There are the benefits of being part of a community. People are supportive, they stick together, they celebrate traditions and share similar views.
I’ve never been a part of the community as we live in a non Asian area which was absolutely fine for me. But because we aren’t a part of the community, I do feel an isolation in terms of beliefs. I know that certain members of the community where my relatives are based do not agree with interfaith relationships and marriages. Yet as I embrace multicultural – interfaith – fusion relationships and weddings, this can cause a stir. Which is why, as similar to the above, I feel I have entered into a ‘forbidden territory’. Not everyone is strong enough to go through this or admit it, but I am and I’m taking my lovely readers with me.
Are you in an interfaith relationship and worried about what ‘the community will think’? Let me know below.
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