Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Most religions prohibit interreligious marriage. Such prohibition can have a number of reasons:
- Religious intolerance. A person professing a different faith is considered inferior and not worth marrying.
- The possibility of temptation to "wrong" practices by the "outsider" spouse, as well as the possibility of the children groing up in the "other" faith, or torn between two faiths.
- Some religions, such as the Druze religion, are closed communities and do not accept new members, whether through marriage or through conversion.
When a man and a woman professing different religions want to marry, they seldom can do so without disobeying both of these religions. They have then the following possibilities, apart from abandoning the idea:
- Civil marriage
- In some cases, one of the two religions does allow interreligious marriage. In this case, a wedding can be held according to the ritual of that religion, and only one of the partners breaks the law of his or her religion.
- One of the partners can convert to the other partner's faith.
Views of Religions on Interreligious Marriage
Samaritan men are allowed to marry women outside their community, on the condition that the wife accept the Samaritans' practices. This lies short of conversion and can qualify as interreligious marriage. The decision to allow this kind of marriage has been taken in modern times to keep the Samaritan community from dying out of genetic disease.
Most denominations forbid interreligious marriage. However, in modern times, the Catholic Church does allow interreligious marriage in certain cases.
The Baha'i Faith
According to the Baha'i faith, all religions are inspired by God, therefore interreligious marriage is allowed and encouraged.
Paradoxically enough, while Hinduism prohibits certain kinds of intercaste marriages, it does allow Hindus to marry members of different faiths, e.g., Jains, provided the marriage is allowed by caste laws. Examples of such marriages occasionally appear in Kipling's stories.
Islam permits iterreligious marriages, under some conditions. Only a man may marry a non-Muslim, and only if she is Christian, Jewish or other dhimmi. The wife need not adopt any Muslim customs, and the husband is not allowed to keep her from going to church or synagogue. One of Prophet Muhammad's wives was Christian.
History of Interreligious Marriage
Interreligious Marriages in the Bible
Even though Judaism does not allow intermarriages, the Bible mentions a number of these among the Hebrews.
The marriages of the patriarchs cannot be considered interreligious as there were no Hebrew women to marry. It is true that even for the first Jews it was considered proper to marry relatives, and the Bible disapproves of Ismael and Judah, who married local maids instead. However, this was most probably because they endangered the survival of the tribe and not because they mixed with pagans.
The first actually interreligious marriage mentioned is that of Moses. Generations later, the sons of Naomi married Ruth the Moabite and her sister. It is unclear whether they converted to the pagan Moabite religion. Ruth, on the other hand, had already converted to Judaism when she married Boaz.
The Biblical character most notorious for interreligious marriages was perhaps king Solomon. Many of his 700 wives were non-Hebrew and not only continued their pagan practices, but also tempted Solomon to participate therein.
Later on, in Babylonian captivity many members of aristocratic Hebrew families married local women. After some of these returned to their homeland, Ezra condemned these intermarriages and attempted to force such families to divorce. It is not clear whether he succeeded, however, many scholars agree that it was those husbands that wrote or edited the Book of Ruth.
Famous Interreligious Marriages
- 03-10-2013 05:06:04
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