This is the second post after my recent article explaining Interfaith relationships/marriages. Before I continue, I want to state that this information is taken from a wonderful article from the Church of England. They have an amazing PDF with information on interfaith marriages – over 60 pages long, so I have broken that PDF up into segments because I wanted to share it with you all. (View the original resource at the end of the post) They touch on so many views and issues that come with interfaith relationships from the couple themselves, to their family, friends and communities.
We love each other and we know we are meant to be together – it’s so much more
important than religious difference
Difference isn’t bad for a relationship – unless it’s not understood or accepted. Whether your partner grew up in the same street or on the other side of the world, your relationship, like every other, connects two people who are different from each other. Differences do not stop people falling in love, and may even be part of the attraction. As for coming from different religious backgrounds, if religion isn’t that important to you anyway, or you dislike the trouble that religious disagreements seem to cause in the world, then it’s understandable if you to decide to try living as if the differences are not there.
We get mixed messages. On the one hand it’s supposed to make absolutely no difference what faith or race you are. Anyone growing up in Britain is meant to believe that. But then if you do believe it makes no difference and if you get to know people of another faith or race really well and know for sure that we really are so alike, and then you fall in love and want to spend your whole life with them, suddenly everyone is telling you how different you are from each other really. All the stuff we were taught to believe and now know to be true they are now saying isn’t true. At the same time all the religious leaders are getting together, and they’re saying people should be getting together – communities getting to know each other and so on.
Forgive me for saying it’s a bit hypocritical. Why is it they’re afraid of mixed people? Is it about power, about control, about whose side we’re going to be on?
If you ‘marry out’ is it because you don’t care about your faith?
Sometimes people assume that if you marry across religious boundaries you must be a nominal or lapsed member of your faith, or that you never cared that much about it anyway. But this is often far from true. In fact it is quite common for a religious person to be drawn to a partner who has attitudes and commitment similar to their own – but in another faith. A lot of people in interfaith relationships are deeply committed to their faith, and go through a great deal of heart-searching about the rights and wrongs of their relationship. For them, ‘marrying out’ of the faith does not mean they give up their beliefs, even if they are disowned by their families and ostracised by their faith communities.
Even if you don’t feel religious, interfaith relationships have a way of making religion matter
‘I’m not religious anyway’
Even if you don’t feel religious, interfaith relationships have a way of making religion matter. In Western Europe, religious beliefs are often thought of as not much more than a personal philosophy. But when people from different religions meet – whether as neighbours, colleagues, or in a marriage – they can find that many of the values, feelings and ideas that make up their culture and underpin their ways of life are connected to a religious tradition. Often the things that seem most important and precious to each of us, like a sense of belonging, or ideas about what matters, and what should be cherished and respected, are rooted in a religion. It is not surprising after all that people feel shocked when these core values are challenged.
We all have attitudes and habits of mind that are so instinctive that they feel like ‘facts’ describing the way things are or should be. We may not think of these ideas about what is normal, special, reasonable or right as religious. Often we are not actually aware of them: we grew up with them and they somehow became imprinted in our subconscious, our families and communities take them for granted, and so do we until they are challenged. And it is this kind of challenge that people in interfaith relationships have to face when they find some basic ‘facts’ differ.
To be continued…
Are you in an interfaith relationship with similar situations? I’d love to hear your version and advice for other couples out there.
View original article