Relationships can never be an easy task. Expectations, cultural backgrounds, and career goals matters that provide much meaningful formation towards our own identities, can also cause much division in romantic relationships.
The Catholic Church also recognized the emergence of new concepts of love and marriage coexisting even within religiously diverse households. Even though the Church does not encourage the practice of interfaith relationships, the Church works to support interfaith couples and prepare them for the challenges ahead with a spirit of holiness.
In light of ever increasing liberalization of religious values, can interfaith relationships and marriages work in our modern time while still being faithful to the religious practices the couple holds? Fears of losing one’s identity, fears of being alienated from one’s community, fears of betraying one’s own conscience – all are potential dangers.
Highly trained academics along with experts in psychology will tell us that such relationships are inherently incompatible, with hope existing only if one or both of the partners has weak religious convictions.
Personally, as I explored this issue, I came to find I was asking the wrong question. Through my own experience in interfaith relationships, I discovered that religious differences were not being the primary obstacle. Clashing personalities, lack of trust, differing career goals – I realized that interfaith relationships face the same issues that same faith relationships often do.
Even with a disparity of cult, we find that if there is willingness the couple can make the relationship work. This false perception that Protestants and Catholics are “unequally yoked” feeds into the couples’ fears that interfaith relationships will not work. In all actuality, the most vivid sign of apostasy is the disunity among Christian brothers and sisters.
Interfaith relationships are at core of ecumenism. This past week the Church celebrated the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The Church recognizes that Christians of all denominations are called to celebrate Jesus together and respect each other’s differences. Christians strive to return to the unity that marked the early Church. The mutual understanding that comes from interfaith relationships, in contrast, can be examples of how to “fight the good fight, finish the course, and keep the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
Adriana Garcia is a senior theology/sociology major. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. She looks forward to your input and viewpoints on this topic.