By Anna Sachse
That said, just because we United Statesians don’t (overtly) murder our neighbors simply because we think their god is a lesser god (and here I have to set aside the genocide we inflicted on the Native Americans), religion continues to be one of the biggest bones of contention in the land of the free. It’s the ominous bottom of the iceberg that comprises most socio-political arguments. Plainly put, we’d all be a lot better off (and, dare-I-say, patriotic) if we could truly accept each other’s differences.
And one way to get that party started is with an interfaith relationship.
“Why so small scale?” you may ask. “Because stirring the melting pot in your own home can boil over and become a tolerance with tendrils that reach out into the rest of the world” is my answer. It forces you to assess your core values. If you don’t necessarily agree about little things like whether or not Jesus ever existed, you must determine what it is that matters most. Love? Generosity? Honesty? Commitment? Perhaps you will realize that the dressing doesn’t matter so much if you both believe in being good people.
If you just fell in love with someone who loves a different god than you, read on for some suggestions on how to smite the potential problems.
Ways to mix it up:
1. Both Drop Out. You can both give up on organized religion altogether and simply practice individually in your heart. However, keep in mind that this may prove problematic as you get older, children pop up and you feel the urge to return to your roots. I’m not saying it will definitely eff things up, but being “mellow” is never a substitute for thorough communication.
2. One Converts. Choosing to practice the same religion is a great way to achieve unity, as long as the conversion isn’t the result of pressure or ultimatums.
3. Both Compromise. If it’s doable and you’re both cool with it, you can both transition into a religion that meets in the middle. For example, a Methodist and a Roman Catholic could become Episcopalian/Anglican. Or you could both join the Unitarian Universalism Association, which includes folks from any and every belief system.
4. Be Bi-Religious. Both of you stick with your own religions but attend—or alternate—events for both.
5. Go Your Separate Ways. Love each other but believe in different Gods and go to different houses of worship.
Tips for making it work:
I. Read books on the subject, peruse the Internet, talk to other interfaith couples. Talking to your current spiritual leader may help as well, but be aware that their opinion may be biased.
II. Communicate! Take time to learn about your sweetie’s religion, be realistic and talk through where and how you both will worship. Talk about religion in relation to marriage, holidays, family, children and death. Focus on your similarities.
III. Never assume your loved one will change. You must love them for who they are, regardless of their religious beliefs.
IV. Consider praying together, each in your own way. Or come up with your own prayers.
V. If your family is intolerant, you must 110-percent commit to supporting your spouse
Interfaith relationships may have to face a few more challenges, but they just might end up a lot healthier and rewarding because of it.