Membership, Community, Diversity

What questions does the prospect of interfaith marriage raise for Christians?

Attitudes toward intermarriage vary from one church to another. It is safe to say that on the whole, Christian parents tend to prefer that their children marry other Christians, and that Christian pastors tend to offer similar advice. There are two large issues at stake here. One is that when both spouses worship together, they may have a better chance at a durable marriage. The other has to do with raising children. Without question, parents from two traditions often need to work much harder to arrive at a mutually satisfactory answer to the question, “What religious values, if any, do we want to inculcate in our children?”

Even when neither parent has been particularly active in any religious tradition, raising children often moves one or the other, or both, to reconsider the merits of some basic religious education. Some churches have historically done more than merely discourage interfaith unions. Catholics still cannot have their nuptials officially witnessed by a priest unless the Catholic spouse has agreed— and the non-Catholic spouse has not disagreed—to raise the children Catholic. Several other traditions have taken similar positions, and some have relaxed their position on intermarriage considerably in recent years.


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