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Interfaith whatnow?

   Discussion: Interfaith whatnow?
Bender · 18 years, 5 months ago
I've been discussing this with a couple of friends (read: posted a ranty lj comment, then argued about it with someone else).

Why would anyone in today's society feel that they must marry/date "within the faith"?

I believe I described it as "ethnocentric with a dash of eugenics". But I get pissy.

The reasons I hear... for the most part, they're elitist at worst, fallacious at best.

I don't know where I'm going with this. Discuss ;P
Starfox Back · 18 years, 5 months ago
The couples and people I know that would like to marry someone of the same faith come down to simple life values. Sharing the same religious beliefs usually means sharing the same basic moral basis which is important for any relationship to work.

Having said that I've also seen relationships that work where people hold very opposing beliefs. Personally I would have never married anyone that didn't share the core values I hold, but that's not so much about religious faith as it is about basic human morals.
Andrea Krause Back · 18 years, 5 months ago

There's a lot to be said for family and societal pressure. Even if the people involved don't see a reason for it they're often pressured by past generations and therefore give in and do what's expected in order to not make waves.

We have a lot of consultants from India here right now and talking to them you hear how important it is in their society to marry within the same culture.  One of my friends is "seeing" one of them (read: sleeping with) and they have to keep it pretty secret.

*shrug* I don't really agree with reasons for advocating "staying with your own kind" to the point of no exceptions. There can be benefits, like starfox said. But I can see how it would happen. And I can see how it would be easier to take the path that doesn't get you stared at and doesn't make your family angry. Wouldn't stop me, personally, but I can't condemn those it would.

renita Back · 18 years, 5 months ago
why does it only have to be from external pressure?
Andrea Krause Back · 18 years, 5 months ago

It doesn't.  But that's really how I frame it to understand someone going with their own faith/culture when it's against what they themselves want. If they're on board with the idea and have no internal conflict about it, then...I'm glad they're so clear on what they want.

I just think the largest portion of the question involves people wanting to have more freedom to be with who they want, and facing resistance.

Andrea Krause Back · 18 years, 5 months ago

Though to be fair, you reminded me of Paul.  He was raised as a devout Christian.  And even though his faith has gone through many changes and periods of reassessment over the years, he still is very spiritual.  Me, I'm not.  I know part of him is very conflicted about being with me because somewhere deep in his heart he's afraid that if what he was taught was true, I probably won't be in heaven with him. And the idea of that is kinda heartbreaking...knowing that deciding to be with me may affect how his afterlife is...

I'm not phrasing it right. But I think what I'm getting at is there's an internal pressure there that in some folks may cause them to leave and find someone who shares the same faith and spirituality or whatever.

renita Back · 18 years, 5 months ago
i understand what you're saying.

it's interesting, though neither chris or i are very catholic anymore ?(he is even less than i am) i think it's still given us a lot of common ground, being the black sheep of two very religious families.
Mamalissa! Back · 18 years, 5 months ago
OK... I'll bite

I made the decision in high school to only date Jews. It was a sort of "this is what I'm supposed to do" thing, and I didn't really think about it.

A while back, something interesting happened - I found myself in a burgeoning relationship with a non-practising Catholic guy.
It had never really sunk in that by eliminating non-Jews from my dating pool, I'd be excluding people who might actually be the most wonderful and compatible partner.

(For time frame and some Fru-content, it was right after Thornhill was released. We went to the South Street Seaport Sam Goody show together.)

I did a lot of thinking at the time, and chose to end the relationship. And this is why:

I consider dating a way to find a life partner.

I want to raise a Jewish family in a Jewish home. It's one of the gifts I value most from my parents. Someone from a similar background shares a common vocabulary with me (and not just Yiddish). It's hard enough to integrate a whole 'nother person into one's life (not to mention their family...) when you do come from the same community.

And I don't want to have to accomodate another religion. I don't want a Christmas tree in my house. I don't want my kids going to church on Easter with their grandparents.
Prinut Back · 18 years, 5 months ago

My parent's would love for me to date/marry a Hindu, but it is extremely difficult.  I don't really meet that many Indian guys, so it's difficult.  But both of my cousins have married Catholics, and my parents have seen that they are really great guys so they have let up on the "only marry inside the religion." 

renita · 18 years, 5 months ago
wow. and that is very liberal-pretentious.

someone who wants to marry within their faith isn't neccessarily saying that other faiths are bad, and people who practise other faiths should stop reproducing. or that other people shouldn't marry interfaith, if that works for them.

my sister is about to marry someone from within her faith. i don't know that she would have opposed to marrying someone from without. in fact i doubt it. but i can see reasons for someone wanting to.

if what you say is the case, does that make someone who marries outside of their faith fundamentally-morally better?

or lets take it out of religion for a moment. would you ever consider marrying a hard-core republican?

would you ever marry a catholic who attended mass every week, who wanted to raise any children in the relationship as catholic?

I mean, that's the same issue, just from the other side isn't it?

Could you ever marry someone who was pro-life?
-if the answer to that is no, then how can you condemn someone who can't see themselves ever marrying someone who isn't pro-life?

the "you's"are directed at leah specifically, however anyone is welcome to field them
Andrea Krause Back · 18 years, 5 months ago

I agree with a lot of what you say but I just wanted to pipe in that I think you're somewhat misunderstanding her question. I don't think she's saying marrying within your own faith/culture is inherently bad and is bowing to evil pressures. I think she's specifically denouncing the feeling many people have that they CAN'T go outside their kind. Looking at the question that way, your sister isn't relevant...do you know what I mean?  She is marrying in her faith because it's the person she wants to marry, not that she would havewanted someone else but felt she wasn't allowed to marry them, so settled for someone in her own faith.

So to summarize what I read from her:

Marrying inside your faith/culture = not bad

Marrying outside your faith/culture = not bad

Marrying inside your faith/culture because you feel you HAVE to = bad.

Bender Back · 18 years, 5 months ago
Thank you. I could never have expressed myself so well or so succinctly.

Want to reside in my brain? ;P
renita Back · 18 years, 5 months ago
i disagree, perhaps my sister isn't the most relevant example but calling the desire to marry with a faith or culture "ethnocentric with a dash of eugenics" is a VERY strong statement.

she doesn't say "doing it because you feel you HAVE to" she asks "why would anyone feel the need to?" and then says that the arguments for it are baseless.

i'm saying that the sharing of fundamental beliefs that are important to you is a good reason. but she calls that "ethnocentric with a dash of eugenics". I find that offensive.
Bender Back · 18 years, 5 months ago
I phrased poorly in one part. Will attempt to fix the phrasing.

Sharing beliefs... that's wonderful. I'm all for that.
renita Back · 18 years, 5 months ago
:p

sure... and now it looks like i'm crazy and making things up ;)
Bender Back · 18 years, 5 months ago
ack. sorry.

I'll flagellate, if you wish.

As in grow flagella.
danced with Lazlo Back · 18 years, 5 months ago
You are niether.

Well, strike that... in this context, you are niether. ;)
renita Back · 18 years, 5 months ago
:D

so true, so true.
dirty life & times Back · 18 years, 5 months ago
most of what i think has already been said. including, for values, childrearing & no-christmas-in-home wanting, it's better for me to consider people of my own faith. but also, wonderful people come under all headings & they don't come around every day. i haven't ever turned my back on a potential relationship just because of differences of faith.

um... here is the hard part. because my religious identity is idiosyncratic & hard to define, at the superficial level, i've found dating nonjews easier (they are more likely to take my beliefs/practices at face value because they don't have much of an idea how an orthodox girl *should* conduct herself).

however, it gets much harder for all parties at the let's-talk-about-our-future-&-meet-our-families stage. & it hurts internally even more than it hurts externally (me vs. my family). it's not a small thing, when the things i want the most for myself (to raise my children with religion, to godwilling move back to israel someday) are bound up specifically with my religion.

wow, that got personal, didn't it. this is worse than a sex poll.
Bender Back · 18 years, 5 months ago
I'm talking about people who won't even consider dating someone because they're not this or that. For example, my best friend's parents preferred her jerk non-practicing Jewish boyfriend over her wonderfully sweet Pagan boyfriend based on the fact that he was Jewish by birth. She bowed to the (what I feel was manipulative) pressure because she didn't want to create "family discord". That's what I find abhorrent.
renita Back · 18 years, 5 months ago
and would you ever consider dating someone who was pro-life. absolutely. no questions, no ifs or ands.

could you date and/or marry someone who believed that?

pro-life is a "this or that".

now, i disagree with your friend's situation, a lot. no one should ever date a jerk. but take the jerk aspect out of it.

you've got two boyfriends, both are great, nice and sweet. one is pagan, one is jewish. now how do you feel about her family's pressure?
Bender Back · 18 years, 5 months ago
You're still missing my point. Actual beliefs are one thing.

you've got two boyfriends, both a great, nice and sweet. one is pagen, one is jewish. now how do you feel about her family's pressure?

Granted, they were boyfriends at two different times. But I still feel that the pressure is uncalled for.
danced with Lazlo Back · 18 years, 5 months ago
Family pressure is almost always uncalled for in terms of adult consensual relationships, if you ask me.

But I feel the need to point out (though I think you've already realized this) that your initial wording was extremely inflammatory, especially to us religious types who have actual reasons for being more likely to/willing to have relationships within our faiths. You used the words "within the faith" when what you really meant was "within the race/ethnic group" which I think most of us can agree is pure bullshit.
renita Back · 18 years, 5 months ago
Family pressure is almost always uncalled for in terms of adult consensual relationships, if you ask me.

my entire ramble in one statement ;)
Andrea Krause Back · 18 years, 5 months ago

Now the question is...even given that the pressure is uncalled for. Is it ever called for to give into them?

It's understandable to me. I'm all about the path of least resistance. Heh. But I think I'd choose to follow my heart rather than the pressure.  But I don't really have that kind of pressure in my life, except for the milder pressure that if you're bi and CAN go either way, why not choose the easy/normal way and just not deal with the "burden" of being in a same-sex relationship.

To which I say bite me. :)

renita Back · 18 years, 5 months ago
well, see that depends on the person. and what beliefs they hold about family and personal life.

will they personally be happier by keeping the family happy and dating/marrying someone the family finds to be appropriate or will they be happier by going their merry way, seeing whoever they want and putting up with the famial discord?

if the answer to that is the former, then yes, it is called for, people have the right to make the decisions they believe will bring them the most happiness.
Andrea Krause Back · 18 years, 5 months ago

I agree. :) I'm just posing the question for the sake of the debate.

It's hard for me to REALLY know how I'd react. Since my family isn't all that religious or tied to race or culture. There's really nothing to test me. I'm pretty cowardly...part of me fears that if I DID have to face the pressure I'd just buckle even if I really really really wanted to be with that person. So I'd make myself miserable in the end.  Heh. So I guess I'd probably phrase it not so much as "happier" but as "less miserable". :)

Wow, it's like my ability to express myself in writing is getting worse as the day goes on. :)

renita Back · 18 years, 5 months ago
debate is fun :)

it is hard to know how one would react.

it's even hard to know which motivation is prime, since there are so many different influences on our lives.

and not at all, you're expressing yourself very well indeed.
Michael (foof) Maki Back · 18 years, 5 months ago
...
> if you're bi and
> CAN go either way, why not choose the easy/normal way and just not deal
> with the "burden" of being in a same-sex relationship. To which I say bite
> me. :)

Heh. I've been thinking about this issue a lot lately. For somone who's never had a single heterosexual impulse in his entire life, I spend an uncomfortable amount of time wondering about bisexuality. :-)

Anyway, has it been your experience that you exert some kind of pressure toward one or the other gender when you're single and looking for dates? I've known bi folks who *say* things like "my next relationship is going to be with a male/female" but I haven't noticed any particular correspondence between that statement and what actually happens.

I think it's kind of like me and the various "types" of guys I go for. Unless I happen to run into a curly-brown-haired geeky D&D player with a scarily sarcastic sense of humor, it doesn't much matter what proclamations I make in that regard.

Sorry for the hijack. I'm just overcaffeinated and undersocialized lately.

Bender Back · 18 years, 5 months ago

I think it's kind of like me and the various "types" of guys I go for. Unless I happen to run into a curly-brown-haired geeky D&D player with a scarily sarcastic sense of humor, it doesn't much matter what proclamations I make in that regard.

join the club ;P

Andrea Krause Back · 18 years, 5 months ago

See, I don't know. I never really AM single and looking for dates. I don't really LOOK for people, so I don't have any plans or expectations about who I'll be with. People just...happen.  It's like...I don't really have criteria for who I'm friends with...and I always end up romantically involved with one of my friends, you know? So...I know I'm not making sense but the gist is I don't really relate to the scenario in the question. :)

I certainly hope I won't be single again...knock on wood and all that. ;)  But if I ever am...I have no expectation at all about what kind of person (with any criteria, gender included) I'd be with next.  I can't even imagine deciding the next one would be a girl or a guy and expecting that it would happen that way. I can't even imagine WANTING to predict it like that.

100% dainty! Back · 18 years, 5 months ago
"You used the words "within the faith" when what you really meant was "within the race/ethnic group" which I think most of us can agree is pure bullshit."

Yes. Thank you Gella. I think we are conflating ethnicity with religion here. Refusing to marry someone who isn't white, if you're white, is kind of ethnocentric. Worrying about how an interracial marriage will affect your lives is normal, but refusing to marry anyone who doesn't look like you smacks of racism.

As Starfox and other people have been saying, we date and marry people who share our core human principles. That often falls under religion. Many have asked, "Would you marry someone who was Republican? Democrat? Pro-life?" I think about this, and I come to the conclusion that I want to marry someone who shares a good deal of my beliefs and values. That's not a tribalism thing, or ethnocentric. It's choosing what we want in a life partner.

So therefore, if being Christian or being Jewish or Hindu is *intrinsic* to your being, I can understand why you would feel alienated spending your life with someone who didn't share those values. When culture is a part of it as well, Melissa made a very good point, I think. That kind of synthesis can be very difficult.

I sometimes think it *must* be possible for a devout Catholic to marry a devout Jew. I know it happens. But I think in cases like that, there has to be a lot of strong mutual agreements between the two people that they will respect each other's faiths and not try to convert the other one. When you throw kids into the mix, it's even trickier. Perhaps in instances like that, you have to agree to let the children become whatever religion they want to. But usually very religious people want to pass on their beliefs to their children.
Bender Back · 18 years, 5 months ago

ethnocentrism doesn't refer solely to ethnic groups.   it refers to any group of people.

100% dainty! Back · 18 years, 5 months ago
Right. But sometimes when you only marry someone within your religion, it isn't because you're excluding other ethnicities. It's because you like them for their values. It can be the same thing as wanting to marry someone who is kind or smart.

What I'm trying to say is that marrying within your religion isn't necessarily tribalism. I compared it to only marrying within your "race" because that is almost always tribalism.
Andrea Krause Back · 18 years, 5 months ago
I think her last note meant that by dictionary definition, ethnocentrism is about any group, not just a so-called "ethnic" group. So sticking to your religion is ethnocentrism, or even your own political party. Heck, if you only would date within Fruheads that's a bit of ethnocentrism. :)
nate... Back · 18 years, 5 months ago
How about if you only date members of the band?
Oh.. wait.. that's a groupie.

:D

100% dainty! Back · 18 years, 5 months ago
Or canadiaphilia.

or being cradle-robbed. :)
renita Back · 18 years, 5 months ago
"I'm talking about people who won't even consider dating someone because they're not this or that. "

how am i missing the point? how does anything i have said or asked NOT relate to that above statement?

i realize that you're trying to focus in on external pressure. but you're not saying that. you've used it in examples. but all of your statements about the issue focus on the individual's decision.

i don't think someone should be pressured to date/marry anyone. for any reason. that to me is abhorent. context free. that kind of pressure from external sources is unwelcome.

but if a family has strong catholic/jewish/pagan/ beliefs, and BELIEVE that their son/daughter has those same beliefs, why wouldn't they encourage them to find someone who shares those same beliefs?

now if those are beliefs that the person in question no longer holds, and the family doesn't realize this, then that is a problem which resides on the person in question, they should be communicating their position, and if they aren't, well, then it's their own fault isn't it?
danced with Lazlo Back · 18 years, 5 months ago
And so it is.

But as a religious Jew, I can tell you that, if I believed in marriage, I'd be very hard pressed to find a non-Jew whom I'd be willing to marry. I have a hard enough time finding non-Jewish folks whom I feel I can relate to on a funamental enough level to consider the possibility of romantic involvement just because of certain attitudes and philosophies that are very important to me that I find tend to be very Jewish-specific... not to mention the whole wanting to keep a kosher home thing. Same reasons I relate better to bisexual non-monogamous types.
Kris 'engaged' Bedient · 18 years, 5 months ago
I got to tell my last bf that I wouldn't be able to marry him (at any point in the future) because he's not christian. For some strange reason, that ended the relationship. *shakes head*

I am very religious though I try to minimize that here because it offends many people, including those I enjoy being friends with. And I am fine with that. But in my future marriage, he has to believe the same things I do. It's a deal breaker.

All of that being said, I don't think it's ok to pressure someone into or out of a relationship at all.
Gordondon son of Ethelred · 18 years, 5 months ago
I know people that are worse Jews that me that will only date Jews. Thats' the thing I really don't understand. They don't believe, they don't live a Jewish Lifestyle. One of them derides anyone who does, yet she thinks she should only date Jews.
100% dainty! Back · 18 years, 5 months ago
I think part of that is culture, Gordon. wanting to date someone with a similar background to you.
Gordondon son of Ethelred Back · 18 years, 5 months ago
The people I'm talking about really just have as much "jewish culture" as anyone who lives in New York. The family never celebrated the holidays, they didn't go to Hebrew school, nothing. It is not an important aspect of their lives. There are many other aspects to "similar background" yet they focus on that one.
siobhan's a londoner · 18 years, 5 months ago
I had a very strongCatholic upbringing and for a long time thought I would only marry a Catholic, as have some onfmy friends. Thing is, like my friends I have found someone who has had a frim moral upbringing that was non-theistic (mine in A WASP/Grrek Orthodox background). I also know that thirty years ago Fil would have been banned form being involved with a Catholic girl. I think what has been said above holds. It is aboutshared moral values. When the time comes me and whomever I'm with will have to discuss Church services and the like. I think at the end of the day it isshared mora beliefs and to some degree cultural beliefs but the vary. For many of my friends the important thing is people who understand that they want to remain a virgin until married. There they find a fellow Christian to be more likely to share their views. Things like that do have relevance. Sorry, rambled there.
Reverend Dude · 18 years, 5 months ago
As faith is a personal choice, and each person's faith is defined subjectively, and the relationships in question are between people, it is impossible for any relationship to be other than interfaith.
Victoria · 18 years, 5 months ago
For a lot of people, religion is an important enough part of life that to not be able to share that with a life partner would be very difficult and perhaps painful.

My last boyfriend was (probably still is) Christian in that he celebrates Christmas with his family, but in terms of his actual beliefs is more of an atheist/pagan (I know that sounds oxymoronic. It's more likely just plain moronic, but I digress). Being unsure of my ultimate beliefs myself, that maybe wouldn't have been a big deal, but maybe it would have been. I'm (sometimes) very active in the church, and being with someone who has almost complete disdain for the Church seems like something that could have become frustrating.

The guy I'm currently after is a Pentecostal who is involved with the Anglican church (choirboys are nummy). To which I say, HAWTT. I'ma get me a churchboy! (Not that I know anything about the Pentecostal church, but I'm all about pseudo-Anglicanism.)
'Course, I could find out just about anything about this guy and I would likely react in the same way ("What? You own blue socks? HAWTT!"). But I digress.

I think my point was (wookiee noise)... my point is that I think I would likely be more comfortable dating someone of the same religion as myself, and seeing as I'm not particularly religious, I can see that a lot of people would be uncomfortable dating someone not of their religion.

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