Mixed-Faith Marriages Present Challenges

When you are dating someone of a different faith, you may feel that it’s not a huge issue. You practice your religion, while they practice theirs. But if you decide to marry a person of another faith, it can present many challenges, especially if you bring a child into the mix.

The first thing you will need to consider is what religion will the child be? For this article, I am going to use the Jewish faith and the Christian faith for my examples.Let’s say the father is Jewish, the mother, Christian. In the Jewish faith, the child is only considered to be born Jewish if the mother is Jewish. If the father is of Jewish faith, but the mother is not, then this child will be, in this case, Christian. The child is automatically not considered of Jewish faith unless he or she formally converts to that religion upon becoming a teenager, I believe the age of 13.

So, you think you’re in the clear now because you’ve determined what religion your child will be? Think again! If only it were that simple. Keeping in mind, in our example case here, the child is Christian. Now you have details to figure out, such as holiday traditions and special holy days. If you would like your child to take part in some practices of each faith, you need to decide what aspects to choose, that will still allow them to experience aspects from the parent of the different faith, without stepping on the toes of the child’s actual religion, so to speak. You have big issues to consider in your household. Do you choose to celebrate Christmas, or Hanukkah or both? Do you acknowledge one or both parents’ religious practices and traditions?

I feel the most important aspect of a mixed-faith marriage is to establish one specific religion for the child, so they have their own religious identity and know “who they are” in a religious aspect. For example, the Jewish religion does not acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah, whereas that is the essential element that the Christian religion is based upon. In this sample scenario, this child is Christian, and you would need to explain to him/her that Jesus is the Messiah in his/her religion, even though perhaps the other parent doesn’t follow this belief. Can this get complicated? Absolutely. My personal advice is to stand firm on the issues that are of extreme importance to you in your religion if your child is following that religion as well.

There are many things to consider when marrying someone of another faith. Give this matter a lot of thought, as things will not always be easy, especially if a child comes along.

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