He’s a Christian. She’s a Buddhist. There’s a crucifix on the wall and a laughing Buddha on the table. Neither one is totally comfortable with the other’s choice of spiritual icon. He’s concerned that she may go to hell for worshiping a false god. She is saddened by the violence behind the symbol of the cross. So, why on earth are they married?
Interfaith relationships are not so uncommon anymore. The lines between religions are growing blurrier as people are coming to see that the differences in beliefs are not as vast as they once assumed them to be. There is a growing openness about religion that has enabled people of different faiths to see each other as people first and believers second. Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Pagan; they all eat, sleep, breathe, laugh, cry, love and live pretty much the same way.
Whether one spouse opens bible and the other sits on a zafu to reflect inwardly is moot when real love permits them both to see and respect the other’s belief system. If the marriage is healthy and strong the two can easily share thoughts and ideas and discoveries about their chosen faiths without fear or resentment. The couple will know that the fundamental teaching in all religions is love for one another. There are many paths to enlightenment and there is no rule that says you must walk your path with your spouse always at your side.
It’s disturbing when religious differences become a problem after the wedding vows have been exchanged. Do people actually not know their future spouses well enough before hand to at least have some inkling about their beliefs? It’s doubtful. And if they do know, why do they marry if it is going to be a problem? That just does not make any sense. These things need to be worked out in advance.
How do you celebrate Christmas when your spouse is Jewish? How do you celebrate Yule when your spouse is Christian? What do you do about birthdays and anniversaries when your spouse refuses to celebrate them at all? What do you let go of and what do you hold on to when your spouse just doesn’t get it? How do you blend two different ideologies into a peaceful co-existence? These are questions to ask before you say I do!
Every successful interfaith marriage is a step closer to world peace. Interfaith marriages not only unite two people, they blend two families. That could provide dozens of people with the opportunity to learn and understand what another belief system is all about. With understanding, barriers crumble and the more barriers that are crumbed, the less in this world there will be to fight about.