For a Christian, there’s no such thing as an inter-faith marriage.

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I love learning about different religions. I’ve always been fascinated by faith and non-faith, from the colourful polytheism of Hinduism to the strict monotheism of Islam, right down to the secular humanism that rejects both. R.E was one of my favourite subjects at school and I distinctly remember one of my best grades was a project I had to do on Judaism in year 9. I remember working particularly hard on it simply because I found Jewish culture fascinating – maybe even attractive. I admired their pride in their cultural traditions, I loved the beauty of the language of the Torah and the Talmud, and I so badly wanted to experience Shabbat at a synagogue.(It’s still on my bucket list).

I would never date a Jewish man.

Strange? While I love learning about different faiths, I am adamant that the faith I believe in is the truth. Arrogant,some would say. But not only do I assert that what i believe is the truth, I fully expect other people who have different faith backgrounds to assert the same thing, and I have no problem with that. After all, what is the point of faith if it is half hearted? How can something shape the entire fabric of your life, right down to the clothes you wear and the food you eat, and be a ambiguous wandering in the direction of a possible certainty. No one’s giving up bacon based on a vague inkling. And I’m certainly not refraining from sex before marriage because of a hunch I got a few years ago that it could possibly be a good idea, sorta, depending on what cereal I ate yesterday. Erm, no. There’s got to be certainty on that one.

There are some truths that can co-exist. The sky can be blue and the grass can be green at the same time. A woman can look fabulous with a weave and with an afro. Popcorn can be both sweet and savoury.

Some truths can’t though. You cannot have refined taste buds AND like avocados. Water can’t be both cold and hot. And the Bible and the Qu’ran can’t both be 100% true. They just can’t – because they blatantly contradict each other.

The question is not, how much does truth matter? Because we all know that truth matters. A lot. It matters whether the diagnosis the doctor gave your Mum last week is the truth. It maters whether the exam grade you received yesterday is the truth. It matters whether the directions that that random lady gave you to that sports massage clinic that you paid more money than could possibly be ethical for someone to just lay hands on you, and you were already running late, were the truth. No, we all know truth matters.
The question is, what do you ACTUALLY believe to be true?

My faith makes some pretty bold claims about a lot of things in the world. It claims that there is only one way for man to fully access God. It claims that the decision to follow this deity is a life or death decision, and that those who make it should be prepared to give up their whole life, everything that is important to them, to live for this truth. These are ludicrous and outlandish claims to anyone who does not believe as I do.

But if I really believe that these are life or death decisions, how can I be comfortable linking my entire life, my hopes, dreams and aspirations with someone who is not willing to shape his whole life around this cause in the way that I am? How can I be comfortable with him telling my children that this faith, that I believe is a matter of life and death, may not exist at all, or that the faith he believes in is as good, as viable an alternative?

If I am comfortable with this, it’s a clear indicator that I do not believe what I claim to believe. It’s not that I don’t believe truth matters, it’s that what I say I believe to be true and what I ACTUALLY believe to be true must be two entirely different things.

Some Christian (specifically Adventist) parents chastise and guilt their children for marrying outside of their faith, without realising that it wasn’t really their faith at all. Christians who are very comfortable marrying Hindus have made a quite obvious statement that they don’t really believe in the claims of Christianity. That’s entirely their prerogative, but it makes sense to own it rather than calling it an inter-faith marriage. I can’t speak for other religions, but I believe that in Christianity there is no such thing as an inter faith marriage. By making the decision to marry outside of the faith, at the time of that act, you have essentially denied the faith. That’s not to say that that marriage is doomed to failure, the person in question is cut off forever, or that God cannot bring beautiful things out of what (I believe)is a mistake. But it does mean that at the time, you are making a very clear personal statement of your faith (or non-faith).

More specifically, within Christianity there are several different denominations. Some of them have a very basic set of beliefs and some of them make very specific claims about quite a few things. Mine is one of them. If you’re a Seventh Day Adventist who marries a Baptist – again, that’s your prerogative, but you clearly didn’t really believe in the specificities of Adventism at the time you decided to get married. If that continues, can you with integrity call yourself an Adventist?

I’m a big believer in live and let live when it comes to faith. One of my fondest memories was being in Chad and hearing the Muslim call to prayer. It’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve heard. I don’t believe in Islam, but I want Muslims to have the freedom to believe what they believe, and I want us to be able to live alongside each other and treat each other with mutual respect. At the same time, I believe that the faith that I found is the best thing to ever happen to me. It gives me joy and peace and of course I naturally want to share that with others if they allow me to (and only if they allow me to). If Christianity doesn’t inspire that in you, then I would politely question whether you’ve truly experienced it.

I certainly don’t want to be in the awkward situation where my significant other feels that I am waiting, Bible in hand, to convert them to my faith. I would hate to be on the receiving end of that and I refuse to inflict that on anyone else.

Truth matters. What matters more is what you believe is the truth.

What do you guys think? Close minded or common sense?

7 Comments

  1. InLoveWithAMuslim
    March 6, 2016 / 12:00 am

    Easy to say till you fall for the wrong un

  2. March 6, 2016 / 5:21 am

    I was reading something on facebook that one of my muslim friends had shared and it clearly stated that muslim women should not get married to non-muslim men. I was tempted to comment but refrained from doing so because I feared it would ignite a negative debate. However, I know that women of other faiths who date muslim men are expected to silimu (as we call converting to islam in Swahili) before they can get married and so are the non-muslim men who want to marry muslim women. I have examples of people in my country who had to break up because one was not willing to convert to the other.
    I personally say if I didn’t grow up knowing I’m a christian and what it entails perhaps I would be more liberal with inter-faith marriages. I do admire some islamic tenets though and the fact that to get into marriage in hinduism and islam you have to do a proper union ceremony. Christians tend to really defend their religion as the way, truth and the life yet we disregard some of our teachings and simply move in together and start living as man and wife with no proper union. Yet these other religions are very strict in following their teachings to the latter.
    I would love to date and marry a person of the same faith just to avoid unnecessary pressures. However, i’m particularly fine with having close friends of other religions as long as you don’t impose my beliefs on me and so do I. Marriage is a lifetime decision and I’m of the belief that both spouses need to be in the same line of reasoning in matters religion at least for the sake of their offsprings’ religious views. But that’s just me. Great post 🙂

    • Mari
      March 6, 2016 / 9:27 am

      I really liked this post.

      From my own experience, my parents were brought up Muslim (and married as Muslims) my mum converted to Christianity later in life. My parents are still happily married and lucky for me, I’m from a background where Christians live harmoniously with other religions. I think it’s like 50% Christian and 50% Muslim. There’s a lot of people who live peacefully in inter-faith marriages. Never not once, has my mum had to compromise her religion and the same goes for my dad. I’ve pretty much been brought up on the same teachings taught my both religions. Be kind, don’t lie, don’t steal etc and I think I’m a pretty decent person. You often find at a lot of Sierra Leonean ceremonies people will do both the Lord’s Prayer and an Islamic prayer. I get to enjoy the festivities of both religious customs. It’s crazy but somehow it works and somehow (in my opinion) there’s something lovely about that.

      However, I myself, I’m a Christian and I intend on marrying a Christian man. Mainly because of some the points you mentioned in your post and because of things such as wanting to bring up my child in a Christian home where we all pray to one God, attend a Pentecostal (and only Pentecostal) Church on a Sunday etc.

      When a lot of people think of inter-faith marriage, I feel like they think of having clashes, being forced to convert etc. Often, people tend to forget the many denominations within Christianity and how different each teaching is. I think clashes are still really valid ofc, but I think you’ve touched based on far more important reasons as to why it’s a no no for Christians.

    • choco123
      March 12, 2016 / 11:56 pm

      Wow! I just found your bloq when I was researching gentrification for school and came across your blog on inter-faith marriage. I don’t think it’s close-minded to want to share your life with someone who who is as passionate about your religion and your faith as you are! It actually makes sense, especially if you want to have kids because obviously you’d want to raise them as Christian because that’s what you think is right so you would want to do right by your kids by doing that. An interfaith marriage may undermine this and other practices that you may do but you said it far more eloquently than i ever could!
      I myself am a Muslim and struggle to explain to my fellow non-religious friends why I would never marry a non-Muslim, not because I don’t appreciate how interesting other religions/ ideologies are, or but because of what you just explained! It’s really refreshing to find other faithful people like you!

  3. March 6, 2016 / 5:35 pm

    I thoroughly disagree here. You believe your faith is absolute truth (which is kind of the point) – but that does not preclude others from believing theirs is absolute truth. At least one of you is wrong, but that’s ok, comes with the turf.
    Now, what would stop you from marrying someone of another faith and sticking to yours? You can believe it’s absolute truth, and still recognise that you might be the one that is wrong. There is no positive proof in either direction, so as long as both are cool with their choice and acknowledge that despite their belief, the other one simply has some other belief that they hold equally dear – where is the issue.
    I like plenty of people that I disagree with on some very fundamental questions. Doesn’t mean I like them less. And me liking them does not mean I believe what I believe any less than I did before.
    Islamic tradition has an issue with non-Muslim men marrying Muslim women because the kids follow their father’s faith, so in that case a Muslim woman would have non-Muslim children, which is not acceptable. (there is a wider point here, about how this reflects a, let’s say dated, view of women that is present in many other religious groups as well, but let’s not go off topic).
    So this time I shall disagree Shade.

    • March 8, 2016 / 11:54 pm

      But Matthias don’t you see thatthe absolute truth I believe in kind of excludes building a life with someone who doesn’t believe. For example, if you believe that the occult is Satanic and evil, then as a Christian youc an’t marry someone who practices that…you can’t just agree to disagree on that because you’re actually opposed to what they believe. Now Islam is slightly different, but if, for example, I believe as a Muslim that calling Jesus God and praying to him is blasphemy how can I then be comfortable marrying someone who I believe is daily blaspheming?? That doesn’t make sense.

      • March 17, 2016 / 7:43 pm

        I’m glad you wrote this piece. I personally think it would be or become increasingly difficult to live day in and day out with someone who is of another faith or belief system than mine. Right or wrong, I would eventually have to let go of at least some of my beliefs in order to continue living at peace with my significant other and vice versa…so then where are we in our respective faiths? I would need a partner who is of the same faith and just as strong in it as I…only then will I be able to truly count on that person in all things…and vice versa.

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