You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. – Deuteronomy 7:3
Despite predictions that religion will go the way of dinosaurs, the size of almost every major faith will increase in the next 40 years. With this, the increasing immigration levels, and the desire for many to have a greater amount of religious tolerance, it’s no real surprise that inter- and intrafaith marriages are on the rise.
Interfaith marriage refers to a union of two persons from different religious traditions while intrafaith is one that involves two persons from different denominations within the same religion. The latter is the most common form of religiously mixed marriages in our country (i.e. Christians of different denominations e.g. non-denominational Christian vs. Catholic).
The very first thought that comes to mind when a person is considering marrying someone of different faith is: What will God think of this?
So many of us have heard about how we should not be unequally yoked, and while that verse has been used in many different ways over the years (even as a blocking component in interracial relationships) it is generally well-known to be referring to coupling with an unbeliever. Paul himself spoke against such couplings in 2 Corinthians.
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? – 2 Corinthians 6:14
Typically, by the beliefs of most religious leaders, the only way that a mixed marriage is considered not to be unfavorable to God is if it starts with the same religion and one partner ultimately strays — it should not be about two people willingly joining themselves despite their differences in religion.
Marriage is a sacred covenant in God’s eyes because its purpose is to show the beauty and fullness of the covenant between Christ and the church. This isn’t something that can be shown in a marriage between two people of different religions.
Yet, with all things, the most important step when considering any major decision is to go to God in prayer. Tell him the desires of your heart and ask for his guidance in the situation, and if you’re determined to marry someone who is not of the same faith, ask that His blessings will continue to pour over you and your marriage.
Now that’s the easiest part. After this comes the truly challenging ones. Here are the top 3 issues you will need to weigh and balance before coming down on one side or the other.
1. Pulling off your wedding ceremony.
Planning the wedding might seem to be the most daunting task on your list. Actually, finding ways to incorporate your two different religions might not be quite as troubling as it seems. Begin this process by asking your fiance what the customs for a traditional marriage in his religion are. Is it possible to have two officiants, say a Pastor and the other a Priest to do a mix of the traditional ceremonies of both religions? Does his religion allow you to declare personalized vows? Are there any interesting traditions you are expected do in your wedding?
I remember wanting to walk down the aisle without a veil but it wasn’t a good idea for my groom’s family so I chose to have it worn on. It wasn’t really a big deal for me, anyway. But if you’re fully convinced that it would be wrong to submit to some things in your own wedding, then by all means stick to your guns. Don’t give in to pressure. Take lots of notes and consider a typical wedding ceremony and determine where your two religions can be intertwined to display a beautiful, dual-faith wedding.
2. Dealing with your parents & future in-laws.
Another tricky obstacle to overcome are your future in-laws. In most cases, the biggest critics of your mixed marriage will be your parents and your future spouse’s parents. These are the family members that ask the hard questions like those listed above because they have a genuine concern for your (or your spouse’s) well-being and faith as well as any children you may have together.
As a Christian, I believe that those that do not come to know Jesus are ultimately damned, and this realization is a dark and depressing one. Other religions share a similar outlook, so your future spouse’s family might consider you destined to spend eternity in hell (or their religious equivalent). Surely, your parents would realize they do not want this ultimate fate for their grandchildren and can be really against your marriage. In truth, you may never fully win the support of your parents in this choice, but the most important thing that you can do is explain that you have prayed diligently to God and asked for his wisdom, guidance, and blessings to be poured upon you and your family. Encourage your future spouse to handle his family in a similar way as befits his religion.
3. Raising kids and building your family identity.
The ultimate mistake of many mixed marriages is not discussing how things will be carried on after the marriage. For example, when a child comes into the picture, what religion will he or she be expected to follow or will you allow your child to choose his or her own religion? How will you handle certain arguments that are faith-related? If both of you are devout in your religions, how will you be mindful and considerate of the other’s feelings and beliefs in arguments and during different times of worship? Discussions such as these are essential to being able to carry on a successful marriage with anyone, beliefs aside.
For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. – 1 Corinthians 7:14
Marrying an unbeliever is not a path that is easy and it may not be the path that is suggested in many religions, but with planning, discussion, and a deep, unshakable reliance on and faith in your God, it maybe possible to make the marriage happen and even have it work.
Continue to pray and consider your options if this is the path that you are looking to take. Read the Bible, talk to your pastor or priest and maybe consider doing some personal research on the topic as well to see if there is any other information that might help you to make the decision you feel that God wants you to make.
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