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Religious Tolerance logo

Interfaith marriage resources:

Part 3:
"Mixed marriages" within the same religion.
A movie. Comments on interfaith marriages.
Other books available from Amazon

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This topic is continued from the previous list/

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"Mixed marriages" within the same religion:

The term "mixed marriages" or "interfaith marriages" normally generally refers to two spouses who follow different religions. However, the term can also be used to refer to a marriage between spouses who follow different traditions within the same religion.

All of the larger world religious have long ago split into more than one denomination or tradition. In the case of Christianity, differences in beliefs and practices among its tens of thousands of faith groups are so great that some observers consider Christianity to be a grouping of religions which share the Bible, the name "Christian" but not much else else.

Some marriages, like those between a Catholic and an Evangelical Protestant, or an Eastern Orthodox and a liberal Protestant can be as difficult to resolve as those between spouses of completely different religions.

Two of the books deal with honoring different traditions within Judaism, and how to design a wedding that "spiritual meaning and joyous celebration."

Some books deal with this topic:

bullet book cover Anita Diamant, "The New Jewish Wedding" This book received a 4.3 star (out of a maximum 5.0 star) rating from 57 reviewers. Review/order this book

bullet book cover Lynn Nordhagen, "When only one converts," Our Sunday Visitor (2001). This book received a 5 star (maximum) rating from all three reviewers. Review/order this book

bullet book cover Rabbi Nancy H. Wiener, "Beyond breaking the glass: A spiritual guide to your Jewish wedding," CCAR Press, (2001). It describes liberal Jewish wedding rituals and customs of the past and present. Included is material on inter-faith marriages, same-sex unions, and remarriage after divorce. Review/order this book

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A movie about a Jewish-Christian family:

Jennifer Kaplan is an independent filmmaker who released a documentary titled "Mixed Blessings: the challenges of raising children in a Jewish-Christian family." See: http://www.mixedblessingsfilm.com/ A trailer can be seen at: http://www.mixedblessingsfilm.com/

She writes:

"When we merge our lives with another whose beliefs differ from our own, conflicts can and often do occur. How does each individual within a relationship examine and articulate his or her own beliefs to his/her spouse? What happens when one partner changes his mind about a previous agreement? What if someone's faith wasn't important before raising children, but becomes important after the birth of a child? And what about the children?..."

The documentary is based on Kaplan's study of interfaith relationships and families, and her interviews with interfaith families, clergy and experts. She found that"

"...the 'sticking point' for Jews and Christians focused more around the children and how they were to be raised."

Mixed Blessings does not provide answers but rather raises questions that couples can ask each other and allows the viewer to gain some understanding of the complexities of mixed marriages. A companion discussion guide comes with each film. The hour long film comes with a bonus hour of extras. See: http://www.mixedbessingsfilm,com.

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Webmaster's observations: The options from which some inter-faith couples choose:

Some couples who follow two different faiths may decide to:

  • Each attend religious services at their own faith groups, separately.

  • One spouse may try to convert the other spouse to their faith. Because one's faith is such a foundation part of a person's being, this can place an intolerable strain on a marriage.

  • Attend both of their two faith groups as a couple together, according to a schedule that they have agreed on, or at random.

  • Select a faith group that is intermediate between their two faiths. For example, a Roman Catholic and a liberal Protestant couple might decide to compromise by attending a high Anglican church service which has liberal social views along with a complex eucharist liturgy.

  • Attend a Unitarian Universalist congregation in the U.S. or a Unitarian congregation in the UK or Canada, etc. This faith group values divergent beliefs among its members. The leader of each congregation does not explain what the laity is to believe, as in most faith groups. Rather their main task is to help the membership develop their own theological and ethical views. For example, the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto in Ontario, Canada makes the following statement:

    "We are a religious organization whose leading principles are the exercise of private judgment in all matters of belief. Members of the congregation, while free to hold diverse beliefs concerning the nature of God, human life and universe, are each committed to the preservation of personal integrity in the search for truth, through the use of critical enquiry, the democratic method in human relations and the obligation to work together with love, for the greater good of all humanity. ..."

The Unitarians in the UK explain that:

    "... to us, sharing experience, perspectives, differences and ideas is a powerful way to explore and expand our personal ideas of faith. And where better to enjoy that exploration than in a diverse, tolerant community that welcomes each individual for themselves, complete with their beliefs, doubts and questions?"

Thus, spouses can bring their theological beliefs to a Unitarian fellowship or church and often feel comfortable there, because of the variety of beliefs and practices among the membership.

We urge interfaith couples to discuss fully how to handle their religious differences and in particular how to handle the religious education of any children that they might have. We feel that it is important to discuss this before becoming married.

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Additional books in interfaith marriages:

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Copyright 1999 to 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
Originally published: 1999-MAR-16
Updated: 2016-SEP-24

Author: B.A. Robinson
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