Those in interfaith relationships might say
"I'm marrying him, not his faith." But you may find out later that
you are terribly wrong. Some religious groups believe that they have
not only the right, but the duty to interfere in the married lives
of their members.
In the baptism of the children, in the religious
instruction and church relationships of the children, and in any
matter regarded as related to morals, such as birth control, some
church groups intrude actively and often with serious results.
It is no wonder, then, that breakups in interfaith
relationships were shown by one study to be two-and-a-half
times as great as when the relationship was with one of the same
faith. Those who contemplate dating/marrying across religious lines
should carefully stop, look, and listen before proceeding. What
is an interfaith relationship? The vast majority of Protestants
belong to about a half dozen main church groups.
Between most of these there is so little difference
that a marriage across denominational lines is not an interreligious
marriage as we understand the term. Serious problems are likely to
arise only in interfaith marriages as follow:
Catholic-Protestant. Both Catholic and
Protestant leaders recognize the seriousness of such unions, and
often oppose them. If the marriage is by a Protestant minister, the
Catholic will be dropped by his church.
If it is by a Priest, the Protestant must renounce
any control over the religious growth of his own children. And in
matters such as the right of the couple to regulate the size of
their own family by the use of contraceptives, the ideals of the two
groups are directly in conflict.
These situations will not contribute to the harmony
of any relationships.
Orthodox-Liberal. Within Protestantism the
teachings and practices of such groups as Jehovah's Witnesses,
Mennonites and Seventh-Day Adventists are sharply at variance with
those outside that particular sect. Intermarriage may lead to
strenuous efforts at conversion.
The whole family or even the whole church may join.
Differences in what is regarded as right and wrong involving Sabbath
observance, dancing, and similar conduct, can lead to serious
Within the major Protestant bodies there are both
ultra-liberal and ultra-conservative wings. Even within one's own
denomination, serious religious cleavages can result which threaten
the marriage. Such possibilities should be considered carefully.
The time to go over all such questions and make
your decisions is not merely before the marriage, but before you
become seriously dating.
When young people deliberately select their mates,
instead of just falling in love with someone who happens to be
around, there will be fewer occasions for the difficulties and risks
of interfaith relationships.