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What are the pros and cons of interfaith marriage?

 

Posted on Fri, Jul. 25, 2008

 

Respect spiritual goals

Arvind Khetia, engineer and a Hindu: Modernization and a global social environment have influenced the institutions of marriage and faith. In todayís world there is an increased interaction among people of different faiths and a growing sense of personal freedom. Therefore, interfaith marriages are happening in Hindu families as well.

In a traditional Hindu life, marriage is central to family life. According to Hindu scriptures, the union of marriage should be influenced and guided by spiritual ideals. Also according to Hindu scriptures, the ideal of a balanced family life consists of ďa loving couple and children, good friends, nourishing food, a charitable attitude, holy company and devotion to God.Ē Thus, marriage is not just a physical union, but a spiritual union as well and requires a shared vision of spiritual ideals and goals.

In an interfaith marriage, faith is probably viewed as a secondary concern. Because of this, either faith may not be practiced in a conventional sense and receive consistent attention. However, a spirit of mutual understanding regarding each otherís faith allows the whole family to benefit from each otherís faith and culture. This is possible when marriage and religion are interpreted in terms of their spiritual values.

Thus, the true union of partners and their faiths requires respect of each partnerís spiritual goals. Then this can lead to the recognition of the divinity of all members of the family and be an ideal interfaith marriage.

Possible consequences

Rushdy El-Ghussein, former president of the Islamic Society of Greater Kansas City: Islam puts great emphasis on marriage because it is a very important relationship to the spouses, to the children, to the extended family and to society. Therefore, great effort is required to ensure the strength of the marriage and the well-being of all involved.

In the best marriages, spouses are strongly committed to each other and all members of the family. They respect each other and share similar values and life goals. This is better achieved when the couple shares a common faith.

However, an interfaith marriage with a strong foundation may encourage each spouse to grow in his or her own religion and have an increased appreciation for the otherís. This could enrich family life and create closer ties between people of faith. Islam permits interfaith marriage to the extent that a Muslim man may marry a chaste woman who also believes in one God (Jewish or Christian).

On the other hand, differences inherent in an interfaith marriage could lead to conflict between spouses or between spouses and extended family, indirectly affecting the children. Differences in belief could also cause children to be confused and perhaps lost entirely from religion. And the family could lose the social support of their faith communities.

With all things considered, an interfaith couple needs to think clearly and prepare for possible consequences. Beyond that, all is in the hands of God.


VOICES OF FAITH
Send your questions for one of our panels of religion columnists to Helen Gray at The Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 64108. Send e-mail to hgray@kcstar.com or a fax to 816-234-4787.

E-mail Arvind Khetia at akkhetia@hotmail.com. E-mail Rushdy El-Ghussein at rushdyel@aol.com.

 

 

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