Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Interfaith Marriages are Increasing due to watered-down beliefs

Interfaith marriages are on the rise. In 1988, a General Social Survey showed 15 percent of couples were married to someone of a different religion. The statistic rose to 25 percent by 2006.

Currently (2010), various surveys show that approximately 50 percent of Christians and Jewish people are intermarried to people of another faith.

The figure drops dramatically for those who are regularly and vitally involved in worship services, ministry and reading their Bible or Torah, such as Orthodox Jews and evangelical Christians. These people are more likely to marry within their own belief system.

Christianity and Judaism run the risk of becoming watered down, hybrid faiths when people intermarry or stop religious observances. It is harder to decide how to raise children. Sometimes it’s not even discussed before the wedding day. The answer unfortunately often becomes “we’ll do both and let the kids decide for themselves.” The next step is dropping all traditions, holidays and Bible study because it’s too hard to keep up, or confusion among the children becomes obvious.

In today’s society where whatever we want to do is tolerated and even applauded, the Bible (both Old and New Testament) has become politically incorrect, and people aren’t learning the principles God had in mind. So couples are already entering marriage with a so-so understanding of obeying God's word, or none at all.

In the Old Testament, God commanded the original Jewish generations to remain separate and not intermarry with people who worshiped other gods (Deuteronomy 7:3, Joshua 23:12, Ezra 9:14). In the New Testament, Christians are not supposed to be unequally “yoked” or bound together with non-believers (2 Corinthians 6:14). Yoked comes from two oxen strapped together to carry water or goods.

The result of intermarriage becomes a wishy-washy relationship with God that determines how we live, and it’s because we have our traditions confused with real heartfelt love for God. So pretty soon, there is no true worship left. The next thing to be left behind is a moral compass.

Deut 6:4-9: Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.

Proverbs 22:6: Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

(Scriptures taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.)

Photo: Wedding rings, in public domain at Wikimedia Commons.

5 comments:

Siarlys Jenkins September 22, 2010 at 7:40 AM  

I think "watered down beliefs" can be a sign of reverence and humility. God is what God is, "I change not," but the doctrines made by men, trying to come to grips with the nature of a transcendent God who is by nature beyond our comprehension, makes our "beliefs" something akin to "filthy rags." It doesn't mean the two parties to a marriage have less faith in God, as God.

Sheryl, Author of post September 22, 2010 at 8:04 AM  

Thanks, Siarlys, yours is possibly one interpretation of the term "watered-down", but most of the time the expression means "not as potent." True humility would be to do the hardest thing - obey God's warnings not to intermarry, even when you believe you have fallen in love with someone outside your faith. I know many, many intermarried couples whose faith and interest in God became "less potent" to non-existent. But congratulations to those who have made a success of staying in touch with God while worshipping in different fashions.

Toyin O. September 22, 2010 at 11:08 AM  

I believe that we are not to be unequally yoke with unbelievers; while I understand why some of these people do it, it could become a cross they have to bear for the rest of their in the long run. Good post.

adamfowlersopinion September 24, 2010 at 3:50 PM  

Good points. I always find it confusing why my co-workers think I'm odd for insisting on only wanting to date/marry a fellow Christian (more specifically, a Baptist). When two people disagree on the most fundamental question of life - Is there a God, and, if so, what does he want me to do? - it's hard to see how they can have a lasting relationship.

That is not even to mention the other issues you mention of confusion for their kids and the basic fact that Christians are instructed in the Bible not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers.

Siarlys Jenkins September 26, 2010 at 9:25 PM  

Although I find a few fundamentals of "mere Christianity" more important that the doctrines of any particular denomination, I must admit that each denomination has something unique to contribute, and that unique contribution would disappear if not for the existence of individuals committed to practicing the specific doctrines of their faith, not for my benefit, but because they believe it to be true.

It might be difficult to raise a child in a family where, e.g., daddy says "Jesus is the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity" and mommy says, "No he was not, and furthermore, God is One." On the other hand, one might teach the child, "Mommy has been called by God to practice the faith given to Moses, and Daddy has been called by God to practice the faith taught to the gentiles by the Apostles. These two faiths haven't always gotten along, but that's a matter of human imperfection. We're not sure why God did it this way, but you can choose which path God has called you to." It could also be a marriage of a Unitarian to a Methodist - remembering that originally it was Unitarian Baptists, known to some other Baptists as "Baptists who can't count."

I appreciate that the original post gives as much respect to Torah studies, and Jewish believers marrying within their faith, as to Christians marrying fellow Christians. Can members of two Christian denominations marry? Maybe, maybe not. I know of marriages between a Roman Catholic and a Congregationalist, who chose to worship at an Episcopalian Church as a compromise.

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