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In Theory: Can interfaith marriages be effective?

April 12, 2013
  • ARCHIVE PHOTO: A couple walk hand in hand with their dog on the horse trail north of Foothill Boulevard, east of St. Bede the Venerable Church early in the morning on Thursday, August 19, 2010. The trail leads to the northern parts of La Canada Flintridge.
ARCHIVE PHOTO: A couple walk hand in hand with their dog… (Raul Roa / Staff…)

Jews are most likely to marry outside their religion, while Mormons are least likely, according to the results of a 2010 survey of interfaith marriage.

The study found that the rate of interfaith marriage in America is around 42%. But, says writer Stanley Fish, many couples of different faiths who decide to marry don't know what they're getting into.

"Interfaith couples tend to marry without thinking through the practical implications of their religious differences. They assume that because they are decent and tolerant people … they will not encounter difficulties being married to someone of another faith," he says. Some of the problems of interfaith marriages come around even if one partner converts to the other's religion. Fish said a spouse could pull the "conversion card" during an argument and say, "but I left my faith for you!"

Q: What are your thoughts on interfaith marriages?

Interfaith marriage is disastrous! It shouldn't happen, not if anyone truly believes the faith they profess. Some hail from cultures where birthplace and religious identity are linked (regardless of anyone's actual belief) so "interfaith" simply means "I'm from here, you're from there" and neither values God; it's not faith that's mixing, but culture. Culture isn't necessarily marital death, but those who marry into another's faith for that sheer purpose are not appropriate spouses. Imagine believing in God, but getting involved with someone who's understanding is so flexible that they can live like a spiritual chameleon. Would anyone find that attractive or worthy of marital commitment?

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I've known folks that identified as Jewish, and their identity was not based on Judaism, but on simple lineage. Sure, they liked to throw a dinner on Passover or light candles on Sabbath, but they weren't even sure they believed in God. Interfaith marriage wouldn't be a problem for them. I dated a gal once that told me if we married, she'd convert to whatever I was, just as her mother had with her Jewish father. She told me this because I was wrestling with accepting Jesus Christ at the time. I knew that just couldn't be right. If someone converts for marriage, it's pointless; if they convert because they truly believe, then it's blessed, unless they're in one of those cultures that will murder you over it.

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