Religion is one of those subjects that is often avoided in conversation in order to keep the peace. However, when it comes to relationships and families, sometimes a firewall of tolerance just isn’t strong enough to stand.
For most people, the God they serve and their faith, is at the core of their essence. I’m not any different. My mom is Baptist and my Dad is a Jehovah’s Witness. I was raised as a believer of Jesus Christ. I respect my father’s way of life and have even tolerated some of his attempts to convert me, but my heart has never been swayed. Although, my aunt believes that I don’t go to church as much as I should. She tells me all the time that church is the perfect place for me to meet a husband. Okay auntie…But hey, birds of a feather do flock together, however, interfaith relationships are becoming commonplace. More and more are marrying individuals of religious backgrounds that differ from their own.
Love has a way of overcoming obstacles. It can cover the many challenges that religion creates. Since marriage is about two people becoming one, compromise is already ingrained in the dynamics. When there is love, you find a way to make it all work. Each person gives and takes a little bit. Taye Diggs, who identifies as a Christian, married Idina Menzel who is Jewish. He has stated that he hopes to allow his son to see both of what their beliefs offer so that he can choose for himself:
“These days, thank God, people are a little bit more accepting and people’s views are broadening and it’s not as accepted to just choose one, how you might have been forced to in the past. I think it depends on the parents’ perspective and how they feel about those issues and how they kind of want to pass that down to their child. As proud as I am of my blackness, I think it’s important to show Walker that he should be just as proud of his Jewish mother and all of the culture that that includes as well.”
But, there comes a point when the fundamental differences between two people create a wall. It becomes a war and one side has to lose because there’s no more room left for compromise, and that usually happens when it comes to what the religious beliefs of the children will be, or when one side wants their spouse to convert. While Diggs for now seems to think having both religious beliefs of being of Jewish faith and Christian faith will benefit his child (and luckily, his wife wasn’t pushed to share his beliefs), other people don’t fare so well. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes reportedly broke up because she didn’t want their 6-year-old daughter, Suri, further subjected to the tenets of Scientology. Katie was raised a Catholic and converted for a few years, but as time went on, she affirmed her prior faith. She recently claimed membership at a Catholic church and enrolled her daughter in a school that practices the faith.
Katie’s not the only one who has had second thoughts about losing themselves in another religion in order to please a partner, but that’s not to say that interfaith relationships are doomed from the start. If two people are committed to reconciling their strong opinions about God and how their respective faiths should work in their lives, more power to them. But as an absolute authority on Stephanie (that’s me of course), I’d prefer to be equally yoked with my significant other. Love is enough of a battlefield and a divided house will easily fall apart.
Could you marry someone of a different faith?
Stephanie Guerilus is a multimedia journalist and author. Follow her @qsteph