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The verdict on Multi-Religious Relationships

Can interfaith relationships work?

I’ll begin with an anecdote. A year ago my Christian friend (insert name here) was courting to a very beautiful girl at his university. The two breathed in sync when they were together and things escalated quickly. The courtship had the view of a relationship in sight. This is not an article about love at first sight or finding Mr Right (Dropout UK don’t have time for that nonsense). The focal point of debate here is whether an emotion as powerful as love can overcome something far more stubborn: core principles and beliefs. You already noticed the word ‘Christian’ so your musings about what this may be about are true. It should be common knowledge any sort of inter-religious relationship is bound to have a conflict of interests.

My friend is an ardent follower of Christ and the girl was Muslim. When this finally came to light my friend decided to end that courtship. He was gravely upset when he did so, he even moped for a little. But his love for God gave him little choice. I’m not (yet) telling you he was right or wrong to do so but I think it’s fair to say he didn’t compromise his core values. Something strong men do.

 I will state in no uncertain circumstances I believe inter-faith relationships should not happen due to my own beliefs, though that isn’t to say that inter-faith relationships do not endure. A study has shown that there’s been a 42% of marriages are inter-faith in the United States. A 2001 UK census estimated around 21,000 couples are in mixed-faith marriages. Another interesting fact is Christian pastors and Muslims imams came together in 2012 to create a document titles ‘When Two Faiths Meet’, detailing guidelines on how to deal with inter-faith marriage.

Here’s my issue with such a gesture. It isn’t the good-hearted desires behind it that trouble me, nor am I blind to the changing social dogmas of the 21st century (although I’m not too crazy about that gender-fluid stuff). If people from differing religions become betrothed, then yes, there should be guidelines to help and support because I believe marriage is sacred. Nevertheless, a man who’s Christian or Muslim (or any other religion) cannot claim to follow their god wholeheartedly when the love for their spouse made them compromise the very thing meant to define them.

I’m only using the term ‘religion’ because it’s quicker to type than ‘relationship with God’. And you’ve correctly surmised that I’m Christian but for those of other faiths I’m going to ask you to do something for me. I promise it’s not hard. I just want you to put the name of your god where I write mine. For example, “I believe God is…” to “I believe Allah is” etc. I also want you to substitute the appropriate phrases and scriptures for discussing my religion with yours. I’m not here to violate, convince or preach to you. I’m not trained to be a spin doctor. I just want to discuss something.

I believe marriage and proper relationships should glorify God. It states in the Bible book of Genesis a man will “leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, becoming one flesh.” One more thing. Jesus Christ, like all of the greatest men who’ve ever lived, was a man of no compromise. Even in the face of unbearable physical pain, mockery, and even fear, he never stopped loving or believing God would pull through for him. He never abandoned his love for God. No compromise.

Given the few facts stated above, if you become “one flesh” with someone who doesn’t share the same belief as you, aren’t you compromising your religion? I shan’t masquerade as an expert on other practices so please bear with me. God is supposed to be the most important element in your existence when seeking a relationship with him. Inter-faith relationship is proof for yourself that he isn’t. And before people start screaming obscenities at me across social networks, I’m not using firebrand to stir controversy, I’m merely drawing this out to its logical conclusion. A believer of (insert faith here) must believe (insert god here) is the most important relationship of their life. If you now proceed into a relationship with a woman/man who doesn’t share that belief, you’re undermining the very belief that, according to you, is supposed to define you.

I haven’t begun to discuss the community ramifications inter-faith relationships have. They’re not wholly important for this article but I think it would be good to go over it nonetheless. The brutal hostility and resistance potentially shown towards inter-faith relationships is the reason so many shy away from it or keep it secret. The very people you would give your life for suddenly shunning you must be devastating for anyone. What concerns me is that while this antagonism by communities is a device used to underscore how forbidden it is for inter-faith companionship, it may lead someone in such a relationship to relinquish their original faith because one group of hate is easier to deal with than two. But therein lies the same problem; you’re not converting because of god, you’re converting solely due to human influence. Any believer of any belief will tell you that is not true conversion.

And before the “everyone-hate-Henry” brigade begins its protest, the ‘you can still be different and together. Black, Asian, White and Latino couples do it all the time!!!’ thesis holds little weight. God far transcends that in levels of importance. After all, he is the one who made the ‘black, Asian, whites and Latinos!!!’ (if you believe so).

 

Finally, to those who may feel offended by my words, it wasn’t the intention. Believe me. I have dear friends who practice different religions and I wouldn’t dare risk losing their ardour. I hope you’re happy if you’re in an inter-faith relationship. Just as long as you accept god wasn’t your number one relationship. 

 

 

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