This post is dedicated to and inspired by my childhood best friend, who is a devout Muslim.
I will admit, a single faith relationship is the ideal. A family that prays together (supposedly) stays together… It would definitely make addressing certain questions easier, like what religion will our children practice? Certain things, go without saying and the points where you disagree in faith will be relatively trivial if both are members of the same religion. If the relationship is based on all the right things, than that shared faith could potentially help to strength and build the faith of the couple, individually and mutually. God knows that at the end of the day, though I may have my weak moments and doubts as any imperfect person may, I know what I believe and I do want to be with someone that shares my faith.
But while I have become more spiritual as time goes on, at the same time, I see why more people are considering interfaith relationships. The advantages of having a household of a single faith are evident, but I’ve always believed that God is far more accepting of the diversity of his creation and the diverse ways that they render their worship. And, if so inclined, it wouldn’t take much reasoning in that direction to convince myself that sharing my faith isn’t on top of my list of what I want in a mate, especially as my window of opportunity and the pool of potential partners grows smaller. And the fact that I secretly believe that I’m at a higher risk than most of landing in spinsterhood and becoming a crazy cat-lady doesn’t help… o_O…
My friend, on the other hand, is even more conservative in her beliefs than I am (which surprised me, because she was far more liberal than I was when we were younger, bordering on flakey). She’s allowing herself no wiggle room on the subject. She wants a Muslim husband, end of conversation.
I’m not writing this post for or against interfaith relationships, but, whether you would consider a mate of another religion, is something that members of every denomination of religion should really ask themselves. For those who consider their faith to be strong, the answer will be short and simple. For others of perhaps less sturdy faith, the answer might not be so clear cut. They might ask if being respectful of my faith and my beliefs is enough from a mate? Is allowing my children the right choose faiths ideal when my faith contrasts that of my partner (whether a part of a split or single faith household, I think allowing your children the right to choose their own beliefs should go without saying, but for the sake of argument, since there are religions that stipulate infant baptism and membership from birth, I present the question anyway)?
Remember Tony and Todd in Girlfriends? For those who need a refresher or aren’t familiar with the series, later on in the series after a short courtship and large lavish wedding, new parents Tony and Todd had to make a decision about the faith of their infant daughter. Tony was the mom, who was Black and Christian and the father, Todd, was White and Jewish. And while she thought she was willing to allow her daughter to also formerly become Jewish, when push came to shove, Tony wasn’t ready to let that happen. Her religion meant more to her than she realized. And what complicated the situation was the fact that at that time, Tony and Todd were separated, pending divorce. It was a big issue for them. While, a single faith relationship is ideal, nowadays interfaith relationships are becoming more acceptable. So I think they’re worth talking about, lest one ends up being in a rather uncomfortable pickle not unlike Tony and Todd.
I’ve heard my fair share of horror stories of failed marriages between husbands and wives that didn’t practice the same faith. But my first roommate in college was mixed raced. Her Dad was Indian and Muslim, Mom was a devout Puerto Rican Roman Catholic. However, she is one of the most well adjusted people I have ever met. Her family is close, her parents are in love, and her father never forced her mother to convert (since in Islam men are allowed to marry women of Judeo-Christian faiths under the stipulation that their wives will convert). She’s been to mass and mosque alike, and is very aware of the overlaps and differences in both religions. While she declares herself to be a member of neither faith, she’s extremely open to people’s points of view on religion and believes in God. There are tons of examples of where it doesn’t work, I’m sure, but her parents are a very good example where it can work.
In this day and age, where pretty much every other marriage ends in divorce, people separate for far more trivial reasons than faith. I think an interfaith marriage, just like any marriage, can work if you go into it with reasonable expectations, openly communicate, and are willing to operate as two halves of a whole and not as separate individuals who have different goals and ideas about where the marriage is going.
While my friend claims that ‘Muslims are crazy. It wouldn’t work between me and a non-Muslim’, the protests in Tunisia, Egypt and more recently in Libya perfectly illustrate the fact that change is sweeping across Islam and the Arab world as well. Human rights organizations are attempting to intervene in Muslim countries were women and non-Muslims are treated as second-class citizen and are often persecuted and abused for small offenses, even by lawmakers themselves. I’m the last person to comment on what that means for the faith itself. Islam is still a vastly unexplored territory to me and I hesitate to comment on things that I’m not well informed in, lest I reveal my ignorance. But… times ARE changing just as people do… maybe one day soon in Pakistan, a practicing Muslim woman (like my friend) can marry an agnostic or Christian Westerner without being shunned by society or her family.
As far as me being in an interfaith relationship is concerned, that decision is between me, whoever my partner may be and God, although the ideal is what I am aiming for. I respect those who choose to be in interfaith relationships the same as I respect my Pakistani Muslim friend and her decision to want to marry a Muslim man… Even though she’d totally look hot with a white dude, lol.
Free will is a double edged sword. We are granted the freedom to make our own decisions, but we must live with the consequences of those decisions, whether good or bad. I hate adulthood and the ability to exercise that free will: there are too many damned decisions to make! But I really love the fact that their mine and nobody else’s to make.
~ L. Astounded