In the world of intercultural relationships, the dynamics of interfaith marriage is a commonly examined issue. Many have written[i] about how they work these relationships out in their lives and I respect their efforts to forge ahead together. It’s a bit easier to find explanations of why people marry across faith than why they don’t. Because I believe deeply that it’s important to consider many sides when making significant decisions, I thought I’d share more about why this was not my choice. Please know that my intent is NOT to condemn those who make the decision to marry across faith, but to provide a voice in the conversation for those contemplating interfaith marriage.
So, why did I not marry across faith? Here are some primary reasons:
Our faith is an integral part of our lives. By faith, I don’t mean a vague concept about trust in goodness or hope in mankind. I mean a specific faith embodied by a specific set of beliefs – for us, Christian ones as found in the Bible. We can’t separate who we are from what we believe – it affects every part of our lives from how we spend money to we raise children and beyond. Successful marriage requires a certain measure of unity, and it would be difficult for us to have this unity without sharing the same faith.
Our faith roots us in a common denominator outside of ourselves. Let’s face it: at some point, romantic love wears off and marriage grows hard. I don’t believe it has to stay gloom and doom once the lovey-dovey stuff subsides, but when we have hit tough times, we’ve clung to a shared hope in a reality outside of our own situation. This reality keeps us rooted enough to not be blown over by every storm that comes our way. As much as I hate to admit it, our love alone is not strong enough to withstand some of the winds that have blown between us.
Our faith gives us a shared ethic to (attempt to) follow. Little decisions stem from bigger philosophies, and bigger philosophies stem from fundamental perceptions of the world. While there’s a wide variety of perspectives within our faith (people can interpret scripture in very different ways), it’s not as wide as across religions. Even when we fail to follow our own ethic, we still have a similar place to return to reorient ourselves and continue on.
What’s your take? If you’ve married across faith, can you speak to what has helped you make it work over the long haul? If you’ve married within your faith, how has this worked for you? I’d love to see some honest dialogue here, but please refrain from bashing/dismissing/disrespectful language. While I recognize the sensitivity of this topic, I do believe it needs to be discussed without snarkiness for the sake of those in the decision making process (plus mean words make me feel bad).