Marriage is hard school for souls. A man and a woman, different from body to soul, come together in an explosive union so powerful that it always has the potential to create new human life. A true romantic remembers both the bliss and the pain that will come from such a risky maneuver. To enter into this state with deep disagreements on the most fundamental questions complicates it.
Posted by John Mark Reynolds, on July 30, 2010 2:59 PM
I believe with all of my heart in Jesus' teachings as expressed in Catholicism to be the fullest expression there is. Otherwise, what's the point in believing in them? Do I think less of my soon-to-be-wife because she isn't Catholic? Absolutely not. Do I respect, honor, and even appreciate her beliefs? Absolutely!
Indeed, when G-d told Jews not to intermarry it was out of respect for and preservation of important differences. I join my fellow clergy in proclaiming that we are still subject to the will and wisdom of our creator, who has defined for us true and distinct paths.
Posted by Shmully Hecht, on July 29, 2010 12:58 PM
Judaism teaches that in-marriage is a mitzvah, a sacred act that we are commanded to fulfill. As such, it's always the preferred choice for Jews to make, contributing to the continuity of our peoplehood. But to ignore the increasing trend of intermarriage, no matter how troubling we may find it, is shortsighted and denies not just the facts but the families themselves.
Posted by Steven Wernick, on July 28, 2010 3:15 PM
What we have always known, remains true regardless of the religion(s) of the couple -- when people are in touch with the values most important to them, live out those values actively in their lives and have a partner with whom they share those values and ways of living them, they are more likely to have happier lives and healthier relationships.
Posted by Brad Hirschfield, on July 28, 2010 2:24 PM
The degree to which each individual adheres to the various practices and teachings of each religion makes all the difference. An orthodox follower of almost any religion will struggle to reconcile a marriage with someone of another faith, while two liberal followers of differing religions will more easily overlook any religious disparity.
We'd all prefer people not to marry outside the faith- but if they do, we must make them welcome, ask for God's blessing on their union, and encourage them not to break away from the faith of their ancestors entirely.
Posted by Julia Neuberger, on July 28, 2010 4:44 AM
The more productive topic is how to avoid such divorces. To do that, a young couple must find common ground in spiritual matters. This is happening already to some extent. The ties of dogma and orthodoxy have been weakening for decades
For society, the most important thing is to support an interfaith couple -- just as we would any other couple -- as they make the promise to love and cherish one another. An interfaith marriage can only thrive in a society that values tolerance. And by the same token, the bonds of interfaith marriage strengthen the tolerant fabric of American life.
I think the United States is, perhaps, the only advanced country where the people are divided down the middle -- believers and non-believers. There appears to be no one in between. Both sides are deeply wedded to their belief and therefore most of them cannot make their own individual marriages last.
I didn't have the heart to tell them that despite the freckles and straight nose, I was Jewish. Not being Italian was enough of a mixed marriage in my husband's family; not being Roman Catholic might have been too much to handle at the celebration. Our now young adult children identify as part Jewish, part Italian, and Unitarian Universalist.
Posted by Debra W. Haffner, on July 27, 2010 12:44 PM
The fact is that religious people are intermarrying, and I believe this trend will continue and even accelerate. The question is not whether this is a good or bad idea, but how we help families incorporate religious understanding and tolerance into their lives. That is the route to happier families, a more open society, and increased religious vibrancy.
Posted by Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, on July 27, 2010 10:26 AM
Religious traditions are complex, ramified cultures. They are not checklists. To adopt a tradition is to orient one's soul toward the universe. That is far easier to accomplish if both parents represent the same tradition.
Religion provides a rich dimension of commonality for couples and thus accords a legitimate priority when seeking a spouse. Shared dimensions lay the foundation for harmony in a marriage. Differences bring novelty and often expand the horizons of each partner, but they also present obstacles.
Posted by Chester Gillis, on July 26, 2010 5:01 PM
I oppose intermarriage before the fact. After the fact, I support marriage. One of the reasons intermarriage concerns me -- aside from the sociological and demographic challenges it poses to minority religions like my own -- is the statement it makes about the role of faith in the life of the individual and the new family he or she creates.
I have been fortunate enough over the past year to find someone who shares my values, and who matches me in being open-minded, accepting and accommodating. He isn't Muslim and while he may not pray the way I do, or fast for Ramadan (both of which could be said of many Muslims), he supports me expressing my spirituality in my own way. What could be a better basis for a long-term relationship than that, regardless of what faiths we might pertain to?
Posted by Pamela K. Taylor, on July 26, 2010 4:10 PM
]My own faith tradition, Quaker, was endogomous for its first 200 years. One could not "marry out," and the result was, literally, an inbred tradition. When Friends began to abandon marriage restrictions in the mid-1800s, it brought renewed vigor to the faith, and not merely through adding genetic diversity.
As an atheist, I have no doubt that intermarriage does, in most cases, lead to attenuation of the more rigid forms of religious faith. On this matter, the priests of my childhood and generations of rabbis were absolutely right. Of course, I consider this a good thing.