When learning about Community Cohesion and how people in society can be pulled together with racial harmony and no fear of sexism, racism and homophobia, students consider the benefits and pitfalls of interfaith marriage. It is when people of different faiths get married, such as a Christian and non-Christian or a Hindu and Muslim.
Students consider the difficulties of choosing an appropriate marriage ceremony for both people; which faith their children will be brought up with; how there may be conflicting food rules; the difficulty of attending a place of worship on different days and not as a family; and how the extended family and local faith communities might respond. It can be tricky.
Well the Daily Mail reports a story today of how a divorced couple are arguing over the religious upbringing of their child as the mother, a Muslim, does not want her ex-husband to take the son to a Christian Church as it will confuse him. Derby County Court agreed with her and he risks visiting and custodial rights to his nine year old son if he takes him to a Christian Church. The father who cannot be named for legal reasons says:
‘My son is being indoctrinated and the only way I can show him other things is to take him to other places. If I don’t show him other types of life he will become just like a dumb sheep. I want him to see and learn about different cultures.’
The boy lives with his mother but sees his dad at weekends. The court case specifies that the father must not take the boy to any religious event. It decrees he must provide only Halal food and reassure the child he is ‘an ordinary Muslim boy following Muslim rules’. There has been uproar from the Christian community who’ve said that if it was the other way round, there’d be a bigger public backlash and cries of Islamophobia.
It’s an interesting debate. How much should parents decide the religious upbringing of their children and until what age? What should happen if the two parents are of differing faiths: should one dominate? The New York Times had a well written article in 2013 where they said Interfaith unions were really a mixed blessing. The political scientists Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell reported a significant positive of Interfaith Marriages: that the more Americans got to know people of another faith, the more they liked them. The New York Times journalist’s research showed that marrying someone of another faith tended to improve one’s view of that faith.
Let’s understand the Christian viewpoint!
Looking at the Christian teachings on Interfaith Marriage St Paul advised the Christians at Corinth to avoid entering significant relationships, such as marriage, with unbelievers. There you have it: Don’t marry an unbeliever—that is, someone who doesn’t share the basics of Christian doctrine and practice. In 2 Corinthians 6:14 in the King James Version of the Bible it says: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”
To explain that a little a yoke is a wooden bar that joins two oxen to each other and to the burden they pull. An “unequally yoked” team has one stronger ox and one weaker, or one taller and one shorter. The weaker or shorter ox would walk more slowly than the taller, stronger one, causing the load to go around in circles. When oxen are unequally yoked, they cannot perform the task set before them. Instead of working together, they are at odds with one another.