What if My Partner and I Have Different Religious Beliefs? Can Interfaith Marriage Work?

Here is a Spiritual Conundrum submitted to Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life by an anonymous reader:

Hi Lee,

I love reading all of your articles, they’re incredibly easy to relate to. I personally am not religious but I do believe in God and believe I have a personal relationship with God and don’t necessarily believe following an organized religion is for me. However, my boyfriend is currently finding his faith which I have been nothing but supportive about – but he feels it is imperative to be on the exact same page spiritually and have the same religious beliefs. I personally believe our core values are the same and we both are great people – I don’t believe going to church every Sunday makes one individual any better than the next. I even go to church with him because I appreciate the rich culture and history of the experience, but that’s more how I see it. I tried to explain to him that if we’re both open minded and respectful then that’s all that matters. I’m willing to go to church but he needs to be understanding that I may not have the same outlook on it. I come from a Muslim background but wasn’t raised so. My dad doesn’t believe in God and my mom does but more abstractly than holy books explain. However both of them have a “to each his own” perspective and never influenced me in the matter and let me make my own decisions. Therefore, it’s hard for me to associate with a religion when I come from a different background and I believe all religions are great and holy so why not just continue living a good life and not associate with any of them? Do you think this relationship is doomed? How do I approach a situation like this? I feel pressured to change my beliefs and abide to his in fear of losing him but I believe God made us each individually and I know He sees nothing wrong with me not being religious as long as I do good and live my life compassionately and tolerantly.

Thanks so much for the help, any insight is greatly appreciated.

Glad you enjoy the articles. Thanks! And your question is a great one!

In fact, here is another Spiritual Conundrum submitted on the very same day by a reader named Confused:

I’m in love with and dating a non-Christian, and I myself am a Christian. I would not ever turn my back on my beliefs as that is turning away from God, but I don’t ever want to force him to make a change he does not want to make. Yet I feel like we are so far apart spiritually when we are so close in every other way. What do I do?

A century or two ago, most people lived in places where almost everyone around them was the same religion. Today, we live in a global society where people commonly meet—and fall in love with—others who come from different religious backgrounds. This creates challenges that only a few of our great-grandparents had to face.

I wish I could just say, “No problem! Go for it!” But as both of you—and many others—have already discovered, it’s more complicated than that.

Every situation is unique. For some couples, having different religious beliefs may be no problem at all. For others, it may indeed doom the relationship.

An interfaith wedding ceremony - Christian / Jewish

An interfaith wedding ceremony

(Image courtesy of: The Wedding Yentas)

I can offer some thoughts that may help those who are facing this issue to get some handle on it. But in the end, it is a very personal decision. I can’t tell you what to do. Only you are in your shoes, and only you can decide whether or how to continue in a relationship in which the two of you do not share the same religious beliefs.

That said, let’s take a closer look.

The Biblical background

First, let’s look at traditional religious strictures against marrying people of other religions.

Many, though not all, religions prohibit or heavily discourage interfaith marriages. These prohibitions are usually based on two dangers:

  1. Believers being drawn away from their faith
  2. Children not being brought up in the faith

To deal with the second danger, religions that do allow their members to marry people of other faiths often require that the children be brought up in their own members’ faith. Dealing with the first danger is even more complicated. And yet, despite both religious and social strictures, interfaith marriages have become increasingly common in recent decades.

The Old Testament on interfaith marriage

Judaism and Christianity are among the religions that prohibit or heavily discourage their members from marrying outside the faith—though in modern times this applies much more to their conservative wings than to their liberal wings.

The Old Testament contains many prohibitions against an Israelite (or Jew) marrying a non-Israelite. For example:

When the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are about to enter and occupy, and he clears away many nations before you . . . . Do not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for that would turn away your children from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly. (Deuteronomy 7:1, 3–4

The concerns are just as mentioned above: believers and their children being drawn away from the faith.

This was the downfall of the famous King Solomon:

King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the Israelites, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you; for they will surely incline your heart to follow their gods”; Solomon clung to these in love. Among his wives were seven hundred princesses and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart. For when Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David. For Solomon followed Astarte the goddess of the Sidonians, and Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not completely follow the Lord, as his father David had done. (1 Kings 11:1–6)

However, there are other cases in which Hebrews married foreign women, and it is either tacitly accepted or specifically approved of. Here are some of the most prominent examples:

  • Joseph, the eleventh son of Jacob, married the daughter of an Egyptian priest. She was the mother of his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were the patriarchs of two of the twelve tribes of Israel. (See Genesis 41:45, 50-52)
  • Moses, the great lawgiver of Israel, married a foreign wife, which became a bone of contention between him and his siblings. However, God intervened on Moses’ side in the dispute. (See Numbers 12)
  • King David’s great-grandfather Boaz married Ruth, who was a Moabite. (The story is told in the book of Ruth.)

Why were these marriages to non-Israelites accepted despite the general prohibition on marrying foreigners who did not follow the God of the Israelites? The basic answer is that if a foreign wife or husband does not pull an Israelite away from the God of the Israelites, and especially if she or he converts to the Israelites’ faith and way of life, then the marriage is accepted.

In the case of Ruth, she accepted the God of the Israelites (see Ruth 1:16). The Bible does not say whether Joseph’s wife and Moses’ wife accepted their husbands’ God and faith. However, these two men were pillars of their faith, so clearly their foreign wives did not pull them away from their religion.

The New Testament on interfaith marriage

In the New Testament, the primary source of interfaith marriage advice is the Apostle Paul. Here are the key passages from his letters:

A wife is bound as long as her husband lives. But if the husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, only in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 7:39)

That last phrase, “in the Lord,” is usually interpreted to mean that she should marry a Christian.

Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship is there between light and darkness? What agreement does Christ have with Belial? Or what does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God. (2 Corinthians 6:14–16)

This is the passage most commonly quoted to say that Christians should not marry non-Christians. Notice, however, that this passage assumes that the unbeliever is engaged in darkness and in practices condemned by the believer’s faith, such as worshiping idols. Would this apply equally to a partner whose faith and practices are not opposed to one’s own religion, and who is a person of faith and conscience?

Further, that passage from 2 Corinthians is not the end of the story. In his other letter to the Corinthians Paul talks about existing marriages of Christians to non-Christians:

To the rest I say—I and not the Lord—that if any believer has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. And if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through her husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound. It is to peace that God has called you. Wife, for all you know, you might save your husband. Husband, for all you know, you might save your wife. (1 Corinthians 7:12–16)

From this it is clear Paul is not adamantly opposed to interfaith marriage. As in the Old Testament, the main issue seems to be whether the non-believer pulls the believer away from his or her faith.

Summing up the Bible on interfaith marriage

From a Biblical perspective then, this is the big question to ask when considering whether to marry someone who has a different faith, or who has no faith at all:

Will marrying this person pull me away from my faith? Will marrying him or her pull me away from believing in God and following God in my everyday life?

The Bible itself presents us with a complex mixture of prohibitions against interfaith marriages, acceptance of interfaith marriage under some circumstances, major figures such as Solomon who violated that prohibition and were pulled away from God, and other major figures such as Joseph and Moses who married foreign wives and continued steady in their faith in God.

In short, the Bible presents us with the pluses and minuses of interfaith marriage, and requires us to use our judgment in considering whether to marry someone who does not share our faith. And the primary issue from a Biblical perspective is whether this marriage will help or hurt our faith in God.

Let’s move on to some other, related issues.

How important is your faith to you?

For some people, religious faith is a major part of their lives. For others, it is more of a side issue.

How important is your faith to you? How important is it to you that your partner shares your faith?

These are questions you and your partner must ask yourselves if you do not share the same faith.

If, for one or both of you, your faith is very important and it is important that your partner share your faith, this could be a real problem. You may think that “love will carry us through.” But will it really? Are you willing to have your partner, or your spouse, not share in beliefs and experiences that are a key ingredient of your life?

Yes, it’s painful to break up with someone you feel very close to and in tune with. However, once you get married, things may become very difficult if you have serious differences in an area of life that is very important to you.

The Apostle Paul raises the possibility that your husband or wife might, in time, come to share your faith. But it’s best not to count on that. Many people have married someone thinking, “They’ll come around in time” . . . but they never do. Ten or twenty years later, you may find yourself living with someone who still does not share your beliefs, and with whom you still cannot share some of your deepest and most important thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

If your faith is very important to you, and forms a core part of your life, I would suggest thinking very carefully before tying yourself to someone who does not share your faith. Likewise, if your partner’s faith is very important to him or her, and you do not share his or her enthusiasm for it, I would think very carefully about the relationship.

If, on the other hand, your faith is more of a side issue, and your main focus is on other things, such as career, service, humanitarianism, ecology, or political action, a difference in faith between you and your partner may not be such a big issue.

Of course, from my perspective as a spiritual teacher, God and spirit are at the core of human life—and it is best to share that with your partner. But only you can discern and decide what your core values are, and whether you share them with your partner.

As a general rule, I would suggest that before you commit yourself to someone, and especially before you tie the knot with him or her, make sure the two of you see eye to eye on your core values and on your morals, ethics, and goals in life. If the two of you are pulling in two different directions, and those two different directions reflect different core values and goals in life, it is only a matter of time before your relationship gets torn apart.

If you do share core values even though your religious faith is different, then as long as the two of you are able to bridge that gap in faith, the relationship might just work after all.

Fundamentalist, moderate, or mystical?

Another reality to consider is that there is a wide variety in the types of faith people have.

When it comes to a potential interfaith marriage and whether it can work, it’s important to recognize where you and your partner fall on the spiritual scale that runs from fundamentalist and evangelical on one end, through moderates in the middle, to broad and mystical perspectives on the other end of the scale.

Though there is infinite variety along this scale, the overall dynamics relating to interfaith marriages are fairly clear:

  • Fundamentalists and evangelicals will have the hardest time being married to someone who does not share their faith.
  • Moderates will generally find it easier to be married to someone who does not share their faith.
  • People with broad and mystical spiritual perspectives will have the easiest time being married to someone with a different spiritual perspective. In fact, they will often find such a relationship spiritually invigorating.

Of course, this assumes that each is married to someone who falls in the same part of the scale.

For example, a fundamentalist Christian marrying a fundamentalist Muslim is a recipe for disaster. How can you really be married to someone whom you believe is going to hell, or is an infidel? It just doesn’t work.

However, moderate Jews, Christians, Muslims, and people of other faiths commonly marry one another and have good and loving relationships.

And a Sufi (a follower of a mystical form of Islam) and a Kabbalist (a follower of a mystical form of Judaism), for example, might find that their spiritual perspectives rooted in different faiths broaden and strengthen one another’s faith and practice.

If either if you leans toward the fundamentalist or evangelical end of your religion, and you belong to different religions or churches, that is a serious red flag. Fundamentalists of many faiths consider it to be a critical duty, commanded by God, to convert others to their faith. If one or the other does not convert, that relationship is headed for disaster.

If your partner is pressuring you to convert to his or her faith, that is also a serious red flag. Relationships must be based on mutual respect. Disrespecting a partner’s beliefs is not compatible with real, spiritual marriage.

However, if both you and your partner are moderate or mystical in your spiritual views, and you respect each other’s beliefs, the two of you may be able to work something out so that you can support one another in your respective religious faiths and practices.

What about marrying an atheist or agnostic?

What about if you are a believer and your partner is an atheist or an agnostic?

This, too, is a personal decision.

Once again, how important is your faith to you? How important is it that your partner share your faith, or at least be sympathetic to and supportive of your faith?

Clearly a relationship between a hard atheist and a committed Christian, Muslim, or Jew, or to a strong adherent of one of the other faiths, is going to face a rocky road.

However, if the two of you share important values and goals that draw you together in common cause, and if you are both able to accept and respect your partner’s very different views about God and spirit, perhaps it can work.

Please do not go into the relationship thinking that your partner will come around to your viewpoint in time. Here’s the general rule:

  • If you can’t love and accept your partner as he or she is right now, with the beliefs she or he holds right now, do not make the mistake of committing your life to that relationship.
  • If your partner can’t love and accept you as you are right now, with the beliefs that you hold right now, do not make the mistake of committing your life to that relationship.

A lifetime of pressure to change is a very long time to be stressed out. It is a recipe for conflict and eventual breakup.

As you consider whether this relationship can work, it’s best to assume that neither of you will ever change your beliefs. If, and only if, you can imagine the two of you together after ten, twenty, thirty, or more years, still believing as you do now, then you may have the basis for a lasting relationship.

Keep in mind that mutual respect is a key part of any relationship that works. You and your partner must be able to respect one another’s beliefs, values, and goals in life if your relationship is to have a future.

What about the children?

If there is even the slightest possibility that the two of you will have children together, this introduces a whole new layer to the issue of interfaith marriage.

Put simply, if you intend to marry someone who does not share your faith, you must work out ahead of time what kind of religious upbringing, if any, your children will have.

It’s all well and good for the two of you to respect one another’s faith, and each follow your own religious beliefs and customs. But when there are children involved, the two of you will have to come to some agreement about their religious upbringing.

As I mentioned earlier, many churches and religions allow their members to marry someone of a different religion as long as he or she agrees that any children will be brought up in the church member’s own faith. Whether you are a Catholic or Protestant Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, or of some other faith, if you are active in your local congregation it is important to find out whether it has this kind of requirement. Then you and your partner may have a difficult decision to make.

If you belong to a more liberal church or religion that does not have this requirement, you still have to come to an agreement between the two of you about how you will raise your children. For example, if you are a Christian and your husband- or wife-to-be is a Muslim, will the children be brought up Christian or Muslim? Will they go to religious classes at the church or at the mosque? Or will they be taught both religions and allowed to make up their own minds as they grow up?

Every situation is different. The important thing is that you and your partner talk about it, and come to an agreement before you get married and start having children.

The choice is yours

I hope this article helps you to think through some of the issues you may face—or are already facing—if you have fallen in love with someone of a different faith.

What should you do? Is your relationship doomed? Or does it have a real future?

Only the two of you can decide that.

But please don’t just skate along thinking, “Love will conquer all!”

Yes, of course, love is the most basic ingredient of any relationship. But it is not the only ingredient. Common beliefs, common values, common morals and ethics, common goals in life—over time these, or the lack of them, will make or break your relationship.

Many relationships start out with raptures of transcendent love only to end out on the rocks of disagreement, conflict, breakup, and divorce. Even marriages in which the partners do share a common faith can end in breakup and divorce.

If you can’t love and accept your partner’s spirituality right now without any hope of change, and if your partner can’t love and accept your spirituality right now, without any hope of change, then I would think very carefully before committing your life to him or her. It’s true that in long-term, stable marriages, the partners’ spiritual outlooks on life tend to merge. However, if it does happen, that merging of spirituality must occur organically. It cannot be pressured or forced on one partner by the other.

It is not possible to know the future of your relationship. But if you and your partner of a different faith think carefully about these issues, talk them over with one another, and come to some common ground, your relationship has a far better chance of being a good, loving, and lasting one.

And if you and your partner do decide to commit your lives to one another, Annette and I wish you every blessing and happiness in your life together.

This article is a response to two spiritual conundrums submitted by readers.

For further reading:

About

Lee Woofenden is an ordained minister, writer, editor, translator, and teacher. He enjoys taking spiritual insights from the Bible and the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg and putting them into plain English as guides for everyday life.

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96 comments on “What if My Partner and I Have Different Religious Beliefs? Can Interfaith Marriage Work?
  1. David Gray says:

    Hi Lee,

    I went on a few dates with a Swedenborgian girl who was part of the Bryn Athyn community. I thought it was interesting in that she seemed to use the phrase “getting to know on a deeper level” opposed to “dating” when talking about relationships with men. Since she broke it off with me, I didn’t get to ask her much, but her words made me curious about Swedenborgians’ approach to dating. Are they typically very conservative, as in taking more of a “courtship” approach opposed to “dating”? Like conservative Christians, is physical intimacy before marriage considered very sinful? Is dating a non-Swedenborgian highly frowned upon?

    Have a great week!

    David

    • Lee says:

      Hi David,

      The Bryn Athyn community is on the conservative edge of the Swedenborgian movement in the U.S. It has its own internal culture developed over its century or so of existence as a distinct religious community. It also belongs to a different sect of Swedenborgians (the General Church) than the one I grew up in (The General Convention, or Swedenborgian Church)–a much more conservative sect. So although it and its satellite General Church communities around the U.S. and Canada do represent a significant percentage of the tiny Swedenborgian movement in North America, it doesn’t represent the remainder of Swedenborgians living in various cities and towns across the continent.

      The General Church is very conservative in its views on sex and marriage–which is what you experienced dating a young woman from Bryn Athyn. In the wider Swedenborgian movement, there is as much variety in approaches to sex and marriage as there is in Western society generally–though of course more skewed toward morality and monogamy than in the culture as a whole.

      Without going into all sorts of sociological detail, I would simply say that your experience dating someone from Bryn Athyn mostly reflects the rather conservative attitudes toward sex and marriage that prevail in Bryn Athyn and in the General Church as a whole.

  2. Sarah says:

    Hi Lee,

    I appreciate your thoughtful balanced views on this topic that were described above.

    I recently ended a relationship as my boyfriend did not see himself as a Christian any longer. He was new to the faith and after much consideration felt alignment with his original spiritual beliefs (belief in God but not to a specific faith) better aligned to him. While he is not opposed to any beliefs of Christianity and enjoys participating in services and prayer, he would not describe himself as Christian as he cannot say with certainty that this is the right belief for him.

    I grew up in a Christian home and am a strong Christian seeing a personal relationship with God as an important part of my life – and one that would be shared with a future spouse. While our relationship ended as I struggled to see how this could be shared with a non-Christian partner, I am beginning to consider that a love and importance of God in ones life need not hold all of the same detailed beliefs. At the same time, I struggle with my upbringing of the importance of being with a Christian spouse and this being the only way one can develop and share an importance of God in ones life. I also struggle with the fact that based on my core Christian belief, my future spouse may not be destined for heaven — but am also very open and respectful to the fact that we as individuals do not truly know what Gods plans are in store.

    Appreciate any thoughts you may have as I work through the thoughts above.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Sarah,

      It sounds like you’re struggling with the very issues outlined in the article.

      Of course, I can’t tell you what you should do. It’s a very personal decision–one that will greatly affect the rest of your life. I will say that if you aren’t sure this is the man you want to be with for the rest of your life, and that you can love him and feel fully married to him just as he is, even if he never changes his beliefs, then you should think very carefully about tying the knot with him.

      As you have probably gathered from the article, my own belief is that people of all religions can be saved and go to heaven. (See the article, “Is Jesus Christ the Only Way to Heaven?” And also: If there’s One God, Why All the Different Religions?) So from my perspective, the fact that he is not a Christian does not mean he is not destined for heaven.

      However, if it is your firm belief that non-Christians cannot go to heaven, then it would most likely be a mistake for you to marry a non-Christian. There would be a continual tension in the relationship as you attempted to “save” your husband, and he likely resisted and stuck to his own beliefs. If you truly want to be with this man, then I would suggest broadening your own views of Christianity and salvation. Otherwise there will be no common ground on which you could found your marriage.

      Once again, though, these are personal decisions that only you can make based on the thoughts of your own mind and the feelings of your own heart. May God be with you as you sift these issues and make your decision.

      • Sarah says:

        Thanks Lee – appreciate your thoughts. I have always believed that we can’t truly know God’s plan and that while Christianity is the right belief for me – I recognize we ourselves cannot truly explain Gods intent for heaven. I find it unfortunate that there is so little encouragement of Christian interfaith relationships in that culture, and am beginning to see that two people can very much still be God-loving and spiritual without both being Christian. Thank you again for your comments!

        • Lee says:

          Hi Sarah,

          You are very welcome. Please let me know if I can be of any further help. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you navigate these difficult and important issues.

  3. Sarah says:

    Thanks Lee. As I have been considering and praying about this over the past few days I feel that I have had a very closed view of Gods love and plan. God alone will decide who and how salvation will be achieved and while I believe this can be achieved by faith in the cross, I cannot discount the spiritual connection and faith of others. Having said that, I am struggling to open myself to a relationship that I know can be very successful, as I feel guilty and hesitant to move forward with a partner of a different faith. I think this is due to the messages I have heard in my evangelical upbringing that it is impossible to share a spiritual and God-centered connection with a partner of a different faith – which after consideration I see as untrue. Can you provide any suggestions on ways to overcome this fear and uncertainty and allow us to use these differences to make God a more central part in a relationship? I truly believe that our differences can make God an even BIGGER part of our relationship than if we were of the same faith.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Sarah,

      Good to hear from you again. It sounds like these events are causing you to deeply rethink some of the beliefs you were brought up with—which is never easy! And yet, perhaps this is God’s way of inviting you to a broader understanding of Christianity.

      I would suggest, however, that if you want to go down this path, you do it with your eyes open. There may be great resistance from the people of the church that you grew up in. You may be forced to decide between your fellowship with them and your relationship with your boyfriend and possible future husband. That can be a difficult and painful choice to make. And once again, it is a choice that only you can make.

      As I said in the article, “Fundamentalists and evangelicals will have the hardest time being married to someone who does not share their faith.” A choice to marry someone who does not share your faith will almost require you to broaden your views beyond those of the church you grew up in. And of course, for most people of faith it is certainly easier to be married to someone who shares their faith.

      And yet, for those who think more broadly about the meaning of being a Christian, being married to someone of a different faith, or who does not share their own particular faith, can be a real forum for spiritual growth.

      Jesus taught us to love all people, even including our enemies. Learning to love someone whose beliefs are different than one’s own is, in my view, a truly Christian endeavor. It requires us to focus on the quality of the person’s character rather than on the particular doctrines they believe. It requires us to love them even if they may not always agree with us. It requires us to focus on love rather than on belief. And Jesus taught us that loving God above all, and our neighbor as ourselves, are the most important laws in the entire Bible.

      Beyond that, it would be important for you and your partner to share life goals and values, even if you may not share specific beliefs. What do you and he want to accomplish in life? How do you want to treat other people? What do you want your impact on your community and the world around you to be? If you find yourselves harmonious in these things, then your different approaches in terms of specific beliefs or faith can help the two of you together to see “the neighbor” that you are to love more broadly and inclusively than if you have the same faith and interact mostly with people in the same church and religious circles.

      These are just a few thoughts that come to mind. I hope they are helpful to you. Also, here is another of my articles about marriage that you might find helpful: How to Know if Mr. or Ms. Right is Right for You: Pointers from Gloria and Emilio Estefan

  4. Marlyne says:

    Thank you so much for writing this article and taking your time to show all facets of this topic. At first when I was looking up this topic, I fell upon Fundamentalist Evangelical and Catholic articles. Those as you imagine frowned highly on the topic and made it seem to be an impossible feat. I am very rational and like to see all sides and consequences which you wrote beautifully in a way that everyone can understand. I also don’t believe that only Christians have the gates of heaven open to them. You’re the first person that I’ve stumbled upon to claim the same thing. I’m only 20 years old and still learning and questioning the system that I was raised in. I thank God that I stumbled across your site. I’m excited to read your other posts. Thank you again!

    • Lee says:

      Hi Marlyne,

      Thank you for your kind words. It gives me joy to know that the articles here are helping you, and opening your eyes to a deeper, broader, and more loving understanding of God, religion, and Christianity—which is what I sense you are looking for. That is why Annette and I do what we do here.

      If you have any questions as you read the articles here that pique your interest, please don’t hesitate to ask.

  5. Sam says:

    Hi Lee,

    Thank you for your unbiased and insightful thoughts on this particularly matter. I think it’s absurd that of all things, faith is the reason why two people cannot be together. I am going through the same crisis with my girlfriend who is a devout Christian. She’s a very intelligent woman, and she is open-minded and quite liberal in her ways of thinking. That is what I really love about her. However, it seems her faith is keeping her away from getting what makes her happy. She is very conflicted about choosing between me and her faith. I am in no way forcing her to give up her religion for me, but I wish that she would be reasonable and think about the whole situation logically. I’d rather her ask herself what would god want for her as opposed to what would her pastors or churches would want for her. I am sure god would only want happiness for her, but now it seems that he is preventing her from achieving it, which is ironic. The relevant question is “Is it god that keeps her from being happy? Or is it the things she was taught to believe?” You made that distinction very clear in your “If there’s One God, Why All the Different Religions?” article, and I couldn’t agree with you more. I believe that God is forgiving, accepting, tolerant and merciful. Regardless of faith, he’d want us to be happy. The problem is that religions are man-made and over the years, we have come to believe in these religions than in God himself.

    I must admit that I approached your articles with my own biases and I was skeptical about what you would have to say. I have come across many articles on the web where these pastors claim their religion is THE religion and that all other religions are evil…that their religion is light, whereas, others are darkness. You managed to give your own input with fairness and without biases. I am now more at ease with the whole conundrum than I was before I read your articles. I honestly don’t know what is going to happen between my girlfriend and I. I really love her and hope that things will work out between us. I will try to share your articles with her and hopefully shed some light on her.

    Thank you for your thoughts!

    • Lee says:

      Hi Sam,

      You’re very welcome. Thanks for stopping by, and for your kind words and good thoughts.

      I’m glad these articles are helpful to you, and I hope they’ll have an effect on your girlfriend as well. Not knowing what sort of church she goes to, I don’t know what they’re telling her. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of crazy stuff floating around calling itself “Christianity.”

      Our thoughts are with you as you face this tough situation. If she just won’t crack on this, then you would have run into it sooner or later anyway. But I do hope for your sake that she softens up a bit and starts thinking of God a little more in the way you do.

  6. Sam says:

    Hi Lee,

    I had a big discussion with my girlfriend and I showed her this article along with the “If there’s One God, Why All the Different Religions?” article. After reading through them, she said that they are great analyses and she agrees with everything. However, she claimed that you left out certain things. She was raised in a very conservative part of California and presumably were taught evangelical Christian beliefs, as she didn’t contest when I claimed she’s holding on evangelical beliefs. As you can imagine, it was very hard to reason with her. She truly believes that her religion is the true religion…that her god is the one true god. She’s not willing to accept the possibility that other religions may offer ways to heaven, too. The latter was the point I was trying to make, but she was very adamant about it. She claimed her religion is “not all inclusive”…that it is rather “exclusive.” I find that very narrow-minded and not accepting at all. Is that the true foundation of Christianity? When I drew a parallel between her exclusivity argument to the exclusivity of the KKK or white supremacists, she accused me of accusing her of calling her a bigot. We went back and forth, but only to end up in a circular argument. I tried telling her that I don’t want her to change her belief, but I’d like that she would open herself up to other possibilities such as there may be more than one way of getting to heaven, as discussed in your “If there’s One God, Why All the Different Religions?” article.

    Do you think this is a lost cause for me? Should I just give up on it and move on? I personally believe that religions are prone to subjectivity. Depending on what environment you were raised in and whom you speak to, you’ll always going to end up getting different answers about the same religion. While she agrees with it, she also believes that her one is the true one, which is questionable considering the underlining subjectivity of it. I made the mistake of telling her to ask her pastors back home (California) over Christmas break, forgetting that they’d give her biased opinions as they were the ones that taught us these beliefs she holds dear. She said after speaking to them, it confirmed her beliefs (not surprising) and that she didn’t think our relationship is going to work out. Now after speaking with her, she’s confused, but not because she’s questioning her beliefs. It is because of me. I told her that maybe she should speak to her current pastor who I assume or pray to be more liberal as we are in a liberal city. I will attend the questions and answers session held by her pastor, where I will ask him all of these questions. I may even cite your articles to make a point. I’m not too optimistic about what I’m about to hear, but I am hopeful.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Sam,

      I hate to say it, but the signs aren’t good for that relationship.

      Though your girlfriend said she agreed with everything in the articles, clearly she doesn’t really agree with a lot of it. In particular, she does seem to be quite evangelical or fundamentalist in her beliefs, specifically about her religion being the only right one, and the only one that provides a path to heaven. If she sticks with that belief, and you don’t adopt her beliefs as your own, she is going to continually think of you as unsaved—and that, as I said in the article, would most likely be a serious problem and blockage in your relationship.

      Obviously I can’t tell you what to do. You’re the only person in your shoes. But I can tell you that if she sticks with her beliefs and you continue thinking the way you do, that is going to be one tense relationship.

      I wish I could give you a more positive response. But as you describe it, your relationship with her does look very iffy to me. I would only add that you definitely do not want to tie yourself to someone through marriage when there are such serious differences in spiritual viewpoints between you. Unless the two of you can come to a meeting of the minds on this, you would only be setting yourself up for future heartbreak if you went ahead and tied the knot anyway.

      Our thoughts are with both of you as you face this very difficult decision!

  7. Hi Lee,

    I just wanted to let you know that things didn’t work out between us. While she admitted that I have made good points and that she begins to have questions about her faith after talking to me, she said she’s scared of questioning it. She was taught not to question her teachings as it violates the teachings. If that’s not fear tactic, I don’t know what is. It’s not religion. It’s a cult. One should be allowed to question what they think is questionable. One should ask questions instead of following blindly. When you teach (blackmail is more accurate) someone that they cannot question what you’re feeding them, you have something to hide. It’s like she can see it, but she cannot see it. She and people like her claim that their way is the only way to heaven because it’s been “proven” even though none of them has ever been there. I feel sorry for them for holding onto such a narrow-minded view, and I feel especially sorry for her for falling under this mindset. She’s in medicine, very intelligent. She’s capable of keeping her mind open on everything unless it’s her religion/faith. I will pray for her and I will pray that she’s right in believing that her faith is THE only way to heaven, in which case, I’ll be going to hell.

    • Hi Sam,

      I’m sorry to hear about you and the girl. I’ve had a few relationships go south because of incompatible religious beliefs. I wanted to offer a challenge to your claim about being open-minded. Do you think we should be open-minded about the Islamic terrorists who believe that killing people will get them rewards in Heaven? Should we be open-minded and consider that their beliefs may be true as well? .. Because other religions may offer ways to heaven?

      David

      • Richard Neer says:

        Hello David,

        I think we should be open-minded about what anyone believes, however different, even if radically, from our own beliefs. Actions are different from beliefs, however, and one’s actions which include destructive, intolerable or hurtful behavior against one another should be subject to criticism and be morally judged.

        Rich

        • Rich,

          I think what I’m getting at is that sometimes open-mindedness can be self-defeating. Sam stated that his girlfriend was narrow-minded because she firmly believed that her particular religion was true. Most of us firmly believe that the belief “God will reward you with virgins for killing infidels’ is not true? Are we narrow-minded for believing this? I would say no. And in the same sense, I don’t think Sam’s girlfriend was necessarily narrow-minded. I do agree that evil actions are obviously worse that differing beliefs.

          David

    • Lee says:

      Hi Sam,

      Sorry to hear that it didn’t work out for the two of you. But in the long run, it’s probably for the best. If she’s as stuck in her beliefs as you say she is, it was bound to cause friction and division between the two of you sooner or later.

      I do agree with you that there is much that is cult-like about fundamentalist sects that inculcate fear into their adherents by saying that theirs is the only way to salvation, and that even questioning it is dangerous. It is ironic, because they are often the loudest in accusing churches who disagree with their particular doctrines of being cults, and yet they themselves act very much like cults, controlling and holding onto their members through fear of damnation if they deviate from the party line.

      Back to the main issue, I would suggest that you have patience and keep your eyes and mind open. When the time is right, God will lead you to someone to love who shares your values and your perspective on life, and who will love you because of your open-minded beliefs, and not in spite of them.

  8. sam says:

    Dave.

    Firstly, not all Muslims are terrorists, just like not all Christians are part of the KKK or members of the Westboro Baptist Church. There are good guys and bad guys in every culture and every religion. My entire point isn’t about whether other religions will get one to heaven. It is about HOW they will get you to heaven. What must you do…how must you live your life in order to gain yourself an entry to heaven? For a select few, killing may be seen as a means to get to heaven. Many of us disagree with that ideology and we believe it’s wrong. Morally, we know it’s wrong to kill or hurt others. So when we, logical people, learn that a small group of people believes that killing is okay, we jump up and scream, “Nooo!” This is where logical thinking comes in. How can you choose to blindly believe without using logic and reasons? If your god promises you that you’ll have a place in heaven by killing innocent lives, shouldn’t you be questioning his intention in the first place? Is he truly the god he claims himself to be? Or is that just the work of Satan (if you believe in that)? The Nazis followed orders without asking questions and look how it ended. You have to think. You have to question the establishments. God gave us brains for a reason. What’s right. What’s wrong. What’s logical. What’s illogical. I believe that to become a better person, you have to learn. To learn, one must ask many questions. I think that concept applies to religious beliefs, too.

    • Would you say then that the objection you had to your girlfriend was more that she had an unquestioning attitude or that she did not have sufficient logic and evidence to justify her beliefs? In other words, is one still narrow-minded if one has good reasons to justify the “narrow-minded” beliefs? I believe that a least some aspects of Christianity are exclusive by definition. Jesus said that he is the only way. Of course we can debate what he meant. He also said that he would divide even families.

      • Sam says:

        What is the reason(s) to justify those beliefs? None of us have been to heaven to see what it looks like. None of us knows where we’ll end in the afterlife. So how can anyone be so sure that Christianity is the ONLY way to heaven. When testing two different medicines for the same disease, do we not give them the exact same chance of being tested until proven otherwise? So why can’t we give other religions a chance, too? Why can’t one accept that there may be other possible ways to heaven? Does it really matter whether you believe your way is the only way or whether you believe there may be other ways? You’re not betraying your religion, so in end end, you’ll be saved and end up in heaven, anyway. So why does your way have to be the only way?

        You’re right. We can debate what Jesus meant when he said that he is the only way. It’s all a matter of what your god said vs. what mind said. The truth is none of us have been to heaven or hell to know for sure. So why not just continue to lead a good life? At least in your heart, you know it’s the right thing to do. I’m not sure what you meant about, “He also said that he would divide even families.” Why would he divide families?

        • I hear you. I have belonged to an evangelical church for a long time but I think my beliefs are somewhere in between yours and theirs. I think the existence of multiple religions is good motivation to come up with sound reasoning for supporting your beliefs and for engaging in civil dialogue with those with whom we disagree. I also believe that the concept of “open-mindedness” can be self-defeating. You are probably convinced that “Killing the infidels” is not a valid way to heaven. Are you narrow-minded for believing this? Probably not. because you feel you have good reasons for believing this. I think your medical analogy works if the possible cures are not mutually-exclusive, but the various religions have contradictory truth claims and methods of being saved. I think my comment about Jesus coming to divide families was to show that Jesus himself was not all-inclusive in his thinking, so one should not expect that Christians should be either. That would be denying their own faith. I suppose that one’s attitude towards other faiths could affect how you approach people of other religions. I tend to be more inclusive in my thinking so I’m not particularly motivated to reach Muslims, etc. Some of my more conservative friends are, though.

      • Lee says:

        Hi deepthinkingdave,

        Just a quick note to say here’s my take on Jesus being the only way to the Father: Is Jesus Christ the Only Way to Heaven? (It does deal specifically with Jesus’ statement in John 14:6 that “no one comes to the Father except through me.”)

  9. Sam says:

    I base my reasoning on the idea that hurting or killing anyone is an immoral act. Without morals, maybe I wouldn’t be as open-minded as I claim to be. I think most of us can agree that killing is not moral, so when I am convinced that “Killing the infidels” is not a valid way to heaven, who’s there to say I’m wrong, except those who believe in the killing? So if we agree that killing isn’t the way to heaven, how can we reject the idea that “Killing the infidels” is not a valid way to heaven? Am I narrow-minded if I tell you that shouldn’t steal? Or kill?

    Lee wrote a whole article about different religions offering different ways to heaven. It’s called “If there’s One God, Why All the Different Religions?” It’s one of the popular ones on this site as it has gained so much traction. You can go read it yourself as I won’t go into details here. Just remember that religions are man-made and are subject to biases, subjectivity and flaws. I’m not asking anyone to question God, but I’m asking them to question their religions if they feel it is morally wrong. Here’s another analogy: if I can get from New York to California by plane, who’s to say you cannot get there by a bus, a car, a boat, or by foot? Different means, at different paces, but we’ll all get there. That is my whole argument. I want everyone to keep an open mind. Your way isn’t necessarily the only way.

    So if Jesus was not all-inclusive in his thinking, why isn’t any Christian standing up and ask, “Why?” Or are we too afraid to question him because he’s god? And if Jesus himself was not all-inclusive, why is it that Christianity claims to be the religion of acceptance, love, peace, forgiveness and tolerance? I understand your argument that by questioning Jesus, people are denying their own faith. However, as I pointed out earlier, one should not blindly follow. One should be able to ask questions for our own salvation.

  10. I definitely see your point. I guess I would prefer to classify religions as inclusive and exclusive, versus narrow-minded and open-minded. Not to be a wise guy, but technically speaking, yes, I think you would inconsistent to say that we should be open-minded to multiple paths to God and not be open-minded to the idea that perhaps the terrorists method is a valid way to God as well. Why wouldn’t your car/boat/plan analogy apply to them? After all, they are completely sincere in their beliefs. But you reject their methods as a way to God because you firmly believe that certain things about God and the way to get to Him are true and others are false, just as your ex did. You just believe different things. I see open-mindedness as a willingness to consider evidence and reasoning that goes against your faith or belief system.

    I don’t see any problem with questioning the evidence for Jesus and his ressurection, etc, but having been convinced of such things, it would seem foolish to not listen to what he said. I don’t know too many people who rose from the dead 🙂

    But I agree that we should cultivate good reasoning skills.

  11. ola says:

    Hello Lee. I am just here when I need some answers.. I am in the same shoes. Bin in love with a Christian lady for six years and I am a Muslim..she just quitted me on the first of dis year..we had quarel and she came up with quitting.. I am actually finding it difficult bt her reasons were cause of the religion diff and she can’t go any longer again..I feel so sad n lk she ain’t feeling anything..

    • Lee says:

      Hi ola,

      Sorry to hear about the break-up. It’s always hard when a relationship doesn’t work out. And as I say in the article, interfaith relationships can be complicated! About all I can say is that if your religious differences were going to be a source of tension and conflict, it’s probably better that the break-up occurred before the two of you got married. Still, six years is a long time! I do hope that after you’ve recovered sufficiently from the pain and confusion, God will lead you to someone you can share your life with.

      • ola says:

        Thank you Lee! Thank you so much..your words carries weight and clarity..please can you gimme your email address? I wana reply to your email seek some guidance and make a confession.. Thank you!

        • Lee says:

          Hi ola,

          You’re very welcome. Glad to help!

          I have to limit time spent on private emails, or I’d get nothing else done. However, you are welcome to submit a Spiritual Conundrum if you like. As I say on that page, I can’t promise to answer. Fortunately or unfortunately I receive for more questions than I am able to answer due to the limited number of hours in a day and the limited number of days in a week.

  12. soni says:

    I am in love with a hindu religion boy. he is not ready to convert but we were in physical intimacy. according to the bible should i marry him or not. will god forgive me for having relationship before marriage?

  13. Ola says:

    A break up cause of religion is a big blow to the heart… Difficult to move on while she says she has moved on…..

    • Lee says:

      Hi Ola,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. It sounds like you’re experiencing the pain of lost love. And as painful as that is, there is life after a breakup. Cutting the remaining emotional strings to your past lover, as difficult as it is, is the key to being able to move on. As long as you keep looking back to your past relationship, you will not be able to look forward to your future life with its new friends and relationships as it all unfolds before you. A clean break from the past, as difficult and wrenching as that can be, is your best hope for moving on with your life. Don’t let your previous partner determine your present and future life. Take charge of your own life, and move forward. I do speak from experience.

  14. Ib says:

    I still don’t wanna believe that we humans are just so dynamic.. Love hurt and it hurts more when you have stayed for years and religion sets in as the barrier…its hard to let go but one just have to.. Ce la vie

    • Lee says:

      Hi Ib,

      Yes, that just about sums it up. Our thoughts and prayers are with you as you pick up the pieces and move on with your life. Many others have gone on to a better life after the breakup of a long-term relationship. You can do it, too. It just takes time and commitment to your own integrity and your own future.

      • Ola says:

        But are there people that are religion tolerant out there? I mean i am one and i don’t seem to discriminate the two religion… I accept the two without accepting one fully… I just accept the two… Is that a problem? I am a Muslim and i accept many teachings in Islam and i don’t accept some again…. In Christianity i accept many teachings and don’t accept some again… In short i am not 100% into both i practice and accept some teachings i feel it’s beneficial and of real facts… Don’t you think that’s a problem lee? I wish you could treat a topic like this or refer me to where i can get any info on it.. .

        • Lee says:

          Hi Ola,

          Yes, there are more religiously tolerant people out there. They just tend not to make as much noise as the religiously intolerant people do, unfortunately.

          Depending on what nation and culture you live in, it may be easier or harder to find someone who shares your more tolerant and inclusive religious beliefs. I’m presuming you did read through the article. You may want to re-read the section titled, “Fundamentalist, moderate, or mystical?” That section encapsulates what interfaith relationships most likely will and will not succeed.

          This is currently the only substantive article on our website that takes up the topic of interfaith relationships. We do get further questions from readers about it from time to time, so perhaps there will be future articles. Meanwhile, I can only suggest that you re-read and ponder on this one.

          And I can only suggest that you not give up, but keep your eyes out for a partner who shares your broader and more inclusive view of religion. In particular, if you pursue your own beliefs and follow your own loves and interests, you will be more likely to cross paths with others who share your views and your values. Continue to move forward with your life. Follow your beliefs and your dreams. If you live your life with hope and integrity, I believe that when the time is right God will bring you and your future soulmate together. Meanwhile, our thoughts and prayers are with you.

        • Ola says:

          Can’t find this article “Fundamentalist, moderate, or mystical?” well as a Nigerian, i am open minded about religion and if religion really teaches peace and tolerant, then why can’t there be peace within inferfaith marriages and all that… My problem is i am religion tolerant i can be with any believer marry any believer so far you are a believer… I said it’s a problem cause i see beauty evn in rubbish…we call same God but different approach! I really wanna explore the two religion to know which one is which

        • Lee says:

          Hi Ola, “Fundamentalist, moderate, or mystical” is one of the headings in this article. But now that I look at it, it would be better for you to start with the subheading above that: “How important is your faith to you?” just scroll down from the top of the article until you find it. It’s right after the parts about what the Bible says about interfaith marriage.

          Interesting that you are Nigerian. This blog seems to have a fairly strong following in Nigeria, which has the 11th most hits to the blog all-time. What part of the country do you live in?

        • Ola says:

          Yeah i am an open minded person and i search Internet well to know some things i don’t know or thought of…. I am based in Abuja, FCT Nigeria. All the way!! I could be skeptical about religion attimes… Did you know at some point in time when i read a book “twilight” by Lobsang Rampa who was a Tibetan buddhist… I somehow embraced Buddhism beliefs at least not deviating from knowing that there is God…. Just saying how tolerance i am though..

        • Lee says:

          Hi Ola,

          Well, I would think that as the capital of Nigeria, Abuja would be one of the best places in your country to meet people who have a broader view of religion and the world. So there’s hope for you yet! 🙂

        • Ola says:

          Hahaha well i have not met any for real.. People here are so religious.. They stick to their religion no matter what.. That’s us though..

  15. Mica says:

    Hi Mr. Lee!

    I have a similar problem and even though you said it’s ultimately our own decision, I just really need outside opinion, and I would really appreciate advice from someone who has given very objective and helpful opinions like in your article.

    My boyfriend and I are very much in love with each other, but he is from a different christian church from mine. We are both christians, but I am a roman catholic while he is from a different branch of christianity. I think it is particularly difficult for intrafaith (vs. interfaith) relationships because it is harder to reach acceptance for each other’s beliefs when there are major disagreements about the same God and how to “correctly” follow him than it is to accept differences about separate gods. My boyfriend believes in a more traditional, conservative system wherein the bible is the sole source of God’s teachings and adding or removing anything from it (such as what they see about us in Catholicism in having church traditions that are not found in the bible) is wrong. We had discussed this many times and, after long debates and a lot of tears, have come to the agreement that every Christian religion represents an interpretation of the bible – and that although he disagrees with our church’s interpretation and believes his church’s is the right way, he can see both of ours as equally valid as both are interpretations in the end. Although he used to think otherwise (before we had these more serious talks about it, he used to want me to convert), he now says he no longer sees me as just wrong for believing what I believe, and would not judge the things I do contradictory to his beliefs as wrong, if they are not wrong for me in my religion.

    I want to believe these are all heartfelt but it is hrs to fully trust that because he is very fundamentalist/evangelical and his church’s system involves pointing out other church’s wrongs (including ours), plus the fact that he said all this after I confronted him about my worries of it not working out. But I completely believe that he really wants to make this work with me, and is willing to put in all the effort.

    However, although we are both so willing to put in the effort because we love each other and want us to be together very much, I am still concerned. It worries me that maybe we are both just fooling ourselves into thinking this will work because of how much we want it to work and be together. He is very dedicated to his religion and I would consider him as a fundamentalist/evangelical while I consider myself to be moderate since I am relatively liberal in my faith. Do you think it is being too idealistic in love to believe that we can make this work?

    Thank you so much!!

    Mica

    • Lee says:

      Hi Mica,

      Thanks for your comment and question.

      Yes, the two of you, and each of you individually, will have to make that decision for yourselves. Only you are in your shoes, and only you can decide whether you want to commit your lives to each other.

      However, I’ll offer you a few thoughts that I hope will be helpful.

      First, it sounds like in your mind you are facing a yellow light about this relationship. You want it to work out, but you’re afraid it won’t. So although it may seem simplistic, I would suggest that you give it the time it needs for you to come to some more definite feeling and conclusion.

      Assuming he is sincere, your boyfriend has taken a step in your direction by considering the idea that different types of Christianity can be valid. If he sticks with that in coming months and years, and continues on that pathway of thinking, then you can have more assurance that it is genuine. But if he snaps back to a more exclusive view, you’ll have your red flag again, and then you’ll have a tough decision to make.

      As I said in the article, fundamentalists and evangelicals do have the hardest time being in a relationship with someone who doesn’t share their particular beliefs. A critical question is whether he is so exclusive in his thinking—as some evangelicals are—that he thinks you, being Catholic, are not saved, and will go to hell if you die a Catholic; or whether he believes that Catholics, too, can be saved if they believe in and follow their religion.

      If he thinks that other Christians who don’t believe in his particular doctrines can be saved, then there is hope. But if he takes the hard-line position some very conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists do, and thinks that you will go to hell if you don’t accept his version of Christianity, then that is a serious problem.

      Would you feel comfortable loving and being married to someone whom you believe is going to hell? So although it might take more tearful conversations, it’s important that you know whether he believes you are saved based on your current (Catholic) beliefs and practices.

      However, I would suggest not pushing him too hard. If his mind has truly opened up to the possibility that other denominations of Christians may have valid beliefs and a valid interpretation of the Bible, that is a huge advance for a fundamentalist/evangelical. The last thing you want to do is scare him back into a more exclusive view by pressuring him to move faster than he is ready and willing to move.

      If he does think you can be saved with your current beliefs, and if he does truly want to spend his life with you, then the very fact of his love for you will help to open up his mind to follow through on believing that your version of Christianity is valid too. It might be a gradual process. But couples do rub off on each other the longer the stay together—if they truly do love one another. So give him the time and space he needs, and see which direction he goes. If he reverts back to a more hard-line position, then you have your answer. But if he continues to speak of your Catholic beliefs as valid, and something he can accept as your Christian path, then there is hope for your relationship.

      One more thing: The two of you should not get married if each of you cannot sincerely say that you could live together and love each other for the rest of your lives even if neither one of you changes the way you think and believe.

      A common mistake of young couples is to think that the other will come around, given time. So they live in continual hope that the other will change. But that is usually a recipe for disaster. So if you do not feel sure that you could love him exactly as he is, even if his beliefs never change, and if you are not sure he could continue to love you for decades into the future even if your beliefs never change, then I would counsel you not to get married. You really don’t want your marriage to be a trial run.

      But if each of you reach a point at which you can honestly say to the other that you love the other exactly as you now are, and would continue to love each other even if neither of you ever changes your beliefs, then there is real hope for a good and satisfying relationship and, when the time is right, a good and loving marriage.

      I do hope this helps. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

      • Mica says:

        Hi Mr. Lee,

        Thank you so much for your answer!

        You got it completely right – I am facing a yellow flag on this. I know I want it to work so much but am afraid it won’t. And yes, I do really appreciate that he has opened up to the idea that other versions of Christianity and other religions are equally valid, or at least says as much, and that this is a big step for him already.

        However, would you think that he really believes this, that a full acceptance of my church, and of me and my belief in it (as I hope he means when he says that our churches’ interpretations are equally valid) is possible for him when he is very dogmatic? The nature of his church is dogmatic, and his belief in it is very dogmatic as well. Although he may not believe that I, or others outside his church, will go to hell, he does believe that his church’s teachings are correct and unquestionable. Do these statements contradict each other? Or is it indeed possible for both to be true? What I mean is, can someone really view another religion’s teachings as equally valid when they view their own religion’s teachings as having the truth that is certainly correct and cannot be doubted?

        On another note, I am considering the possibility that maybe I do not fully accept his beliefs, or at least its system. On your other article, “If there’s One God, Why All the Different Religions?”, I agree so much with everything you said. I am a devout Catholic and I love my faith, but I completely agree that each religion has their own way to God and I value each of our relationships with God and our desires to be good over the religious structures established by people. But I don’t know if I am being hypocritical, if my feelings contradict my statement that I agree with all that. I don’t know if it means that I do not accept my boyfriend’s church when I feel so negatively towards his dogmatic attitude to his church. I could say that I can acknowledge his church’s teachings as equally valid as mine and as being the interpretation he chooses to be right for himself in his path to God, but I feel it to be very difficult to accept that he believes his teachings are perfectly correct and unquestionable. (He is open to me questioning some of his doctrines but they always end in him being unyielding to their truth and accuracy, since they are based so concretely and perfectly on the Bible which leads him to believe their teachings are infallible). I feel a tendency to view this dogmatic attitude as close-minded, or instead is it I that am being close-minded to his beliefs? Am I wrong for wanting him to accept that his church’s truth is just another version of the truth of God’s Word and is not any more or less “correct” than others? Or would his failure to do so be an indication that he believes my church’s teachings are wrong and thus can never fully accept mine as equally valid?

        I apologize for another long question, which may admittedly contain opposing concerns. I am just so troubled with so many conflicting thoughts and with the desperate desire to make it work between us. Your articles and previous response have been of great help, and if you are willing to, I would greatly appreciate your insight once again on these matters. Thank you!

        Mica

        • Lee says:

          Hi Mica,

          As you probably realize, some of your underlying questions about your relationship and your boyfriend are ones that only God—and time—can answer. I can’t see into your boyfriend’s soul, nor do I know the direction he will take. And though of course you’re much closer to him and know a lot more about him than I do, even you can’t see what’s truly in his soul, nor do you know which way he will go. Hence your struggles.

          That is why you’ll need to take the time to let the relationship unfold, and learn over time which way it is going to go.

          And I’ll say once again, as long as you have these serious doubts, do not get married to him. Some people think that marriage will cement their relationship together and make it permanent. But the reality is that marriage does not magically change people, and it does not magically make people who are incompatible compatible.

          Now on to some of the questions that I can at least partially answer:

          All evangelicals are not the same. Though evangelicalism is on the conservative end of the Christian spectrum, there is a liberal / conservative spectrum within evangelicalism itself. Much depends on where your boyfriend and his church fall along that spectrum within evangelicalism. And that’s something you’ll have to explore as time goes on.

          About accepting others’ beliefs as valid: This does not necessarily mean accepting that others beliefs are ultimately true. What it means, practically speaking, is accepting that others’ beliefs provide them with a valid, working pathway to God and salvation.

          You don’t have to accept that your boyfriend’s beliefs are God’s own truth, nor does he have to accept that yours are God’s own truth. What the two of you have to accept about each other is that for each of you, your own beliefs provide a real relationship with God and a working pathway to salvation, or to heaven, or to whatever you conceive of as our ultimate fate on the positive side of the ledger.

          That’s why I brought up the issue of whether your boyfriend and his church believe that Catholics can be saved if they remain Catholics.

          If he remains evangelical (which is likely), he is simply not going to think that Catholics are right doctrinally. Catholic doctrine disagrees with evangelical Protestant doctrine on some key points. So the critical question is not whether he can accept your beliefs as valid in the sense of believing that they are true—which he’s simply not going to believe. Rather, the critical question is whether he and his church believe that faithful Catholics can be saved and go to heaven.

          Evangelicals are divided on this point. The most conservative ones hardly even admit that Catholics are Christians. But more liberal evangelicals accept that Catholics also believe in Christ, and can therefore be saved.

          You’ll need to find out what your boyfriend and his church believe about this.

          If your boyfriend’s church is one of the very hard-line ones that thinks Catholics can’t be saved, then he’s going to have a tough choice to make between his church and his relationship with you.

          If he belongs to a more liberal evangelical church, then he may not have such a tough choice. Though he’ll still likely think that his church’s doctrines are correct and Catholic doctrine is incorrect, if he believes that Catholic doctrine and practice can save a person even if it’s not quite right (in his view), then if he maintains that stance, a relationship with you could work. However, it will still be lesson in patience and mutual respect when it comes to your differences in beliefs. And learning patience and mutual respect is not a bad thing. 😉

          For your part, you’re not necessarily close-minded to reject his church’s dogmatic stance. The differences between Catholic and Protestant evangelical beliefs and practices are real, and can’t be completely reconciled. So it’s only natural that you’re not going to accept some of the stances he and his church takes. But if you believe that he is sincere in his beliefs, and that he can be saved and go to heaven by following them, then your differences in belief and practice aren’t necessarily a relationship killer—though as I said, they will still present you with challenges requiring you to develop patience with and respect for one another in your differences.

          The big question is whether your boyfriend’s mind really will open up to the idea that your church and your beliefs are valid as a pathway to God and salvation. If he can make that leap, and stick with it, then there is hope for the relationship. If his church thinks Catholics are damned, though, he may have to separate from his church in order to make that leap. And that could be very difficult for him to do.

          Once again, only God knows for sure, and only time will tell. And since neither you nor I is God, the answers to your most pressing questions will come only with time as your relationship with your boyfriend unfolds and the answers to your questions become clear.

  16. Mica says:

    Hi Mr. Lee,

    Thank you so much for your answer!

    You got it completely right – I am facing a yellow flag on this. I know I want it to work so much but am afraid it won’t. And yes, I do really appreciate that he has opened up to the idea that other versions of Christianity and other religions are equally valid, or at least says as much, and that this is a big step for him already.

    However, would you think that he really believes this, that a full acceptance of my church, and of me and my belief in it (as I hope he means when he says that our churches’ interpretations are equally valid) is possible for him when he is very dogmatic? The nature of his church is dogmatic, and his belief in it is very dogmatic as well. Although he may not believe that I, or others outside his church, will go to hell, he does believe that his church’s teachings are correct and unquestionable. Do these statements contradict each other? Or is it indeed possible for both to be true? What I mean is, can someone really view another religion’s teachings as equally valid when they view their own religion’s teachings as having the truth that is certainly correct and cannot be doubted?

    On another note, I am considering the possibility that maybe I do not fully accept his beliefs, or at least its system. On your other article, “If there’s One God, Why All the Different Religions?”, I agree so much with everything you said. I am a devout Catholic and I love my faith, but I completely agree that each religion has their own way to God and I value each of our relationships with God and our desires to be good over the religious structures established by people. But I don’t know if I am being hypocritical, if my feelings contradict my statement that I agree with all that. I don’t know if it means that I do not accept my boyfriend’s church when I feel so negatively towards his dogmatic attitude to his church. I could say that I can acknowledge his church’s teachings as equally valid as mine and as being the interpretation he chooses to be right for himself in his path to God, but I feel it to be very difficult to accept that he believes his teachings are perfectly correct and unquestionable. (He is open to me questioning some of his doctrines but they always end in him being unyielding to their truth and accuracy, since they are based so concretely and perfectly on the Bible which leads him to believe their teachings are infallible). I feel a tendency to view this dogmatic attitude as close-minded, or instead is it I that am being close-minded to his beliefs? Am I wrong for wanting him to accept that his church’s truth is just another version of the truth of God’s Word and is not any more or less “correct” than others? Or would his failure to do so be an indication that he believes my church’s teachings are wrong and thus can never fully accept mine as equally valid?

    I apologize for another long question, which may admittedly contain opposing concerns. I am just so troubled with so many conflicting thoughts and with the desperate desire to make it work between us. Your articles and previous response have been of great help, and if you are willing to, I would greatly appreciate your insight once again on these matters. Thank you!

    Mica

  17. Hi Mica,

    I’m sorry to hear about the struggles you are having with you boyfriend in trying to come to an agreement about religion. I actually ended up reading this blog because I was seeing a Swedenborgian and I come from an evangelical background. I am probably more inclusive now in my thinking, though. The Swedenborgian ended up breaking it off with me and dating someone of her own tradition.

    I am feeling your pain because 7-8 years ago I was probably like your boyfriend. I went on a few dates with a girl whom I liked and but she was more “liberal.” I can remember grilling her on the 3rd date about her beliefs on hell and that was a big turnoff to her. And now I probably think more like she does 🙂

    It’s tough because I’m not sure your boyfriend is going to change or not. I was struggling when I was dating the Swedenborgian. My approach was going to try to focus on the things that we do have in common. More liberal Christians do not necessarily share the doctrine of evangelicals, but they do generally shared the same beliefs about how to live. Perhaps focusing on the words of Jesus could be a good starting point: helping the poor, forgiving people, loving your enemies

    Even as a post-fundamentalist, I do get a little frustrated with open-minded/close-minded concept. It does seem a bit hypocritical of me for the liberal to argue, “You are so close-minded to the evangelical.” Unless the liberal is “open-minded” to the idea that all religions may NOT be valid paths to God, then he/she is close-minded as well. I don’t belief all religions are valid paths to God since I do not think that the suicide bombers who kill people for their faith are doing what God wants.

    Perhaps you might be able persuade your boyfriend to adopt a more inclusive version of Christianity. I would highly recommended looking at this blog and searching for the the term “inclusivism.”
    http://randalrauser.com/?s=inclusivism

    Have a great day!

    David

    • Mica says:

      Hi David,

      Thank you for your empathy. I am sorry you had experienced similar pain. Thank you also for your insights, I agree with starting with the words of Jesus about how to live a good life. I will check out the articles on inclusivism on the link you included. Thanks for this! 🙂

      Mica

  18. Mica says:

    Hi Mr. Lee,

    (First, I apologize for the repeated comments D: I can be such a noob at online blogs. Please delete them if you want, as I am unable to delete them myself)

    Thank you so much for all this! I know that a lot of my questions have been difficult to answer or even inappropriate, but I am so grateful for your patience and honesty in answering a lot of them.

    “Though he’ll still likely think that his church’s doctrines are correct and Catholic doctrine is incorrect, if he believes that Catholic doctrine and practice can save a person even if it’s not quite right (in his view), then if he remains in that view, a relationship with you could work. However, it will still be lesson in patience when it comes to your differences in beliefs—and learning patience is not a bad thing.😉”
    –> This answered my concern on whether it is possible to view Catholic doctrines as incorrect while still fully accepting that they can save a person (just as much?), so thank you for this. That brings a lot of relief for me. I particularly find your advice on learning patience when it comes to our differences in beliefs to be very helpful. Although, I was wondering if you may have any advice specifically for how to be patient with your partner who constantly believes that your church’s doctrines are incorrect/false as part of their dogmatic stance in their weekly/regular church practice?

    Other than that, I wish to thank you once again for your very helpful insights. You are right, only time will tell. I must now just be more patient with him, with our relationship, and with where God wants to take our relationship.

    Have a great day! 🙂

    Mica

    • Lee says:

      Hi Mica,

      Yes, the duplicated messages did present a bit of a challenge, but I think I’ve gotten it sorted out now!

      And as sharp-eyed readers might notice, I edited the comment you’re responding to after you quoted it, so what’s now in my comment doesn’t exactly match what you quoted. Life has its little wrinkles!

      I’m glad that particular thought was helpful to you. But keep in mind that you still have to find out whether he thinks that way.

      Protestants tend to think that beliefs are critical, in line with Martin Luther’s original formulation of the key Protestant doctrine of justification by faith alone. The emphasis is on faith, or belief. It is very common for Protestants to believe that right belief brings about salvation, whereas wrong belief brings about damnation. That’s a very different view than in Catholicism, which has always taught that living a good life is just as important for salvation as believing the right thing.

      Patience and respect is a mutual thing. Yes, if the relationship is going to continue, you’ll have to cultivate patience toward your boyfriend. But he’ll also have to cultivate patience toward you. If you’re continually accommodating his views and being patient and respectful of his differences of opinion from yours, but he’s not returning the favor toward you and your beliefs, then that’s not a working and workable relationship.

      I’m sorry to say that many women, especially, tend to feel that they must accommodate the men in their lives, whereas the men in question have no such feeling toward the woman in their lives. And that is a recipe for disaster.

      So yes, you’ll need to work on that patience and mutual respect. But so will he. And if he doesn’t, but keeps hitting you over the head with his doctrines and their superior correctness, I’m sorry to say that your relationship with him is headed for the rocks. The ball is not just in your court. It’s in his court as well.

      Annette (my wife) thinks that this article might also be helpful to you: Islam, Christianity, or No Religion at All?

      It’s a response I wrote to a Muslim reader whose evangelical Christian friends were pressuring him to become a Christian. It deals with the issue of evangelical Christians’ attitudes toward people who believe differently than they do.

      The main thing is that if your boyfriend puts ongoing pressure on you to accept his beliefs, that is not a good sign. True love respects and values the person loved, and does not attempt to force changes on the other person, but allows the other person to grow and change according to his or her own internal beliefs, goals, and aspirations.

      If that remains an issue in your relationship with your boyfriend, please don’t fall into the trap of thinking it’s your job to adapt to him. He has the same job in relation to you as well.

      If it seems like I’m sounding a note of caution, that’s because I am sounding a note of caution. Just because you understand the situation better, that doesn’t necessarily solve the problem and take the yellow flag off the field. It simply helps you to approach the situation with a little more light to guide you.

      As difficult and painful as it may be, if over time it becomes clear that your boyfriend simply can’t respect your beliefs, but continues to think you should believe the way he does, then for the sake of your own long-term happiness and integrity, you’ll need to break off the relationship and find someone who does respect you and your religious beliefs and practices. It is better to endure the pain of a breakup than to endure years of difficult marriage that will almost certainly end in divorce. I know this from experience.

      If your boyfriend really does come to accept that your beliefs are a valid pathway to God and salvation for you, Annette and I will rejoice with you. Just be sure that’s truly the case before you tie the knot with him.

      • Mica says:

        Hi Mr. Lee,

        Thank you for your thoughts! I really appreciate your honesty and concern, especially that note of caution. I just want to let you know that I have talked to my boyfriend about some of the issues you mentioned, and for now we have reached certain understandings of each other’s values regarding these things. I am so grateful for your insights for these have allowed us to open up more discussions and allowed us to achieve a much deeper understanding of each other’s beliefs and values, and seeing more deeply into his desire to mutually respect my beliefs, we can now both work towards love and God from a more solid foundation and with a more patient and respectful attitude.

        I am very grateful for your honest insights at a time when I was feeling very lost in the noise of my overlapping and conflicting thoughts all talking over each other. Haha.

        Thank you and God bless you and Ms. Annette! 🙂

        Mica

        • Lee says:

          Hi Mica,

          Thanks for the update. We are very glad to have helped, and we wish you and your boyfriend all the best as you move forward together.

  19. huntresss10 says:

    Hi, I just wanna ask you some advice 😦
    I’m currently in a relationship with a catholic guy and I’m a baptist. I don’t have against with other religion. But as this moment it feels like a bit heavy, I don’t know what I’m going to do if sooner or later we will get married and we are not in the same faith. Please help me. Please enlighten me.

    • Lee says:

      Hi huntresss10,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment.

      Of course, I’m not in your shoes, so I can’t tell you what you should do. Have you read the article? And did you read through the various comments on it? I know it’s a lot of material, but perhaps you will find some help for your situation. If, after reading through it, you have any specific questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. Meanwhile, we do wish you well as you move forward with this relationship and consider whether it is the right one for you and your boyfriend.

  20. Özcan says:

    It’s much better to marry a kind-hearted atheist who has morals than some irrational devout Muslim or Christian. This is just another tragic consequence of religions; preventing marriage between people just because they adhere to different religions, how irrational and stupid when you think about it. How primitive.

    I hope one day that humanity will get rid of all these man-made religous, ethic and national identities and realize that all humans are equal.

    One of the good verses in the Qur’an that I really like;

    “O people, We created you from a male and female, and We made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Surely, the most honorable among you in the sight of God is the most righteous. God is Knowledgeable, Ever-aware..”

    Although I wonder why in other verses the same God says that all non-Muslims are our enemies….

    Just one of the hundreds of contradictions in the Qur’an…

    If the Qur’an was really revealed by God, then there must have been a terrible miscommunication between Muhammed and God. I doubt that God wants to mislead human beings… or maybe religions are man-made..

    • Lee says:

      Hi Özcan,

      It’s much better for whom to marry a kind-hearted atheist than a devout Muslim or Christian? For you, I’m sure that’s true. But for people who are themselves devout Muslims or Christians, not so much. The whole point of the article is that it’s best to marry someone whose values and goals in life match your own reasonably well.

      Now about the Qur’an, two points:

      1. Sacred books are not primarily about making rational sense and being logically consistent. They’re not even primarily about giving teachings on doctrinal and theological subjects. Both of these are relatively modern concepts. Rather, sacred books about getting people to believe in God, stop sinning, and live a good life instead. Whether or not they’re internally consistent doctrinally is a distinctly secondary issue.

      2. Sacred books are by nature a relationship between God and human beings. As such, they have both a divine side and a human side. If that were not so, they would fail in their purpose of delivering a divine message to human beings. In other words, if the various sacred books did not deliver a divine message within a rough human exterior, they would not be sacred books at all, but merely lofty philosophical musings that went beyond the ability of most, if not all, human beings to understand, and that certainly would not affect the actual lives of ordinary human beings living in this dark, corrupt, and inconsistent world.

      For more on this, see: How God Speaks in the Bible to Us Boneheads

      I do agree with you that there’s an awful lot of irrational and intolerant “religion” out there that ought to die a well-deserved death.

  21. Dimple says:

    Hi Lee Sir,
    I have gone through few of your articles and they are undoubtedly awesome. I am a Christian gal with the same thoughts of yours regarding religions and reaching heaven stuff. I am in love with a Hindu boy who does not have a problem with my religion at all and the same with me. But now the problem is my parents. They are not accepting a Hindu boy and I do not want to marry without their approval or elope with the guy which is very common in India. I think hurting parents and marrying will no way give me a peaceful married life. But how to convince my parents? That’s my first issue. My second issue is my doubt regarding idol worship. If I have to marry him he says he will not disturb my faith or force me to leave my God, in fact he says he also wants to know about Christianity so he also would accompany me to church but he also says “if we marry for the sake of my parents you should accept the sindoor (which Indian women apply on their foreheads) and in case any poojas takes place you should join”.he says “you need not really do idol worship with your heart but you can atleast act for others happiness. What’s wrong in it?” Now I am in dilemma can I proceed with it? As bible strictly prohibits idol worship. But is there anything mentioned in bible where Jesus opposed idol worship in particular? Please help me out with these two issues.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Dimple,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment and questions. I’m glad the articles here are helpful to you in your Christian life!

      Your questions are difficult ones. In the end, you’ll have to make up your own mind, since you are the only one walking in your shoes. I can’t tell you what to do. Also, I am far from an expert on Hindu practices and Indian culture. So I may or may not be of much help to you.

      About your parents’ opposition to your marrying a Hindu, that is always a difficult situation. And there isn’t always a good solution. Some people defy their parents’ wishes and marry anyway, creating a breach with their parents that may or may not heal over time. Others break off the relationship, which carries its own consequences and its own pain. Every situation is unique. At minimum, it will test your love and commitment to this particular man. You will certainly not marry him without thinking very seriously and deeply about how important the relationship is to you. And that is a good thing.

      Though the support of family and friends is important in a marriage relationship, ultimately it is the spiritual connection between the two of you that matters most. You will have to decide whether your connection with him is deeper, stronger, and more important than your connection with your parents. And if you decide that it is, and you go ahead and marry him, you will need to be prepared for the possible consequences of a break with your parents.

      All of this is why it must be your own choice, made in your own heart. If you decide to go ahead with it, you can keep the door open to your parents even if they close the door on you. It will then be their choice whether or not to accept you and your husband. You can’t force them to accept the marriage.

      Once again, there just aren’t any easy answers in situations like this.

      About participating in Hindu religious and cultural practices, that is just as tricky. I agree with your boyfriend that it’s what’s in your heart that counts. On the other hand, if a practice really is idol worship, that does go against the Ten Commandments. Idol worship is not mentioned by Jesus, or anywhere in the Gospels, but it is mentioned in several of the other books of the New Testament, including the book of Revelation. For example, in the so-called “Council at Jerusalem” described in Acts 15:1-35, the gathered disciples issue a ruling against eating food sacrificed to idols. You might find that passage instructive. And yet, you will still have to make up your own mind, based on your own conscience.

      Along those lines, another story you might want to read is the story of Naaman, the Syrian leper, in 2 Kings 5, especially verses 18-19:

      But may the Lord forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I have to bow there also—when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the Lord forgive your servant for this.”

      “Go in peace,” Elisha said.

      Naaman was in a position similar to yours, in which he was obliged by his position in Syrian society to accompany his master in the worship of a foreign god. He asked Elisha the prophet if the Lord could forgive him for this, and Elisha responded, “Go in peace,” meaning that he would not be condemned for this, even though it was a violation of the laws of the God of Israel, whom Naaman had committed himself to worshiping.

      If you marry this man, you will have to make up your own mind what rituals to participate in and what not to participate in. On the one hand, since you are a Christian, others must respect that about you, and it is not wrong for you to say that it is contrary to your conscience to participate in a particular ritual. On the other hand, you may decide to participate in the spirit of honoring the customs and beliefs of your Hindu family, even while in your heart you are devoted only to the Lord God Jesus Christ. Or you may decide to participate in some parts but not in others.

      Much of it will depend on the particular culture and customs, and on your own conscience. And that is the one thing I would strongly recommend: Whatever you do, make sure you are not violating your own conscience. That is God’s presence and voice in you, and you must listen to it.

      I hope this is at least somewhat helpful to you. May God give you a wise and discerning heart as you navigate these very difficult questions and issues!

      • Dimple says:

        Thank you so much sir for your guidance along with Bible verses. I would also want to know what if a believer of Jesus eats something sacrificed to an idol considering it as normal food rather than treating it holy? Will that be against Bible? Why didn’t Jesus concentrate on idol worship at all unlike God in old testament? I also want to know more about idol worship. In old testament God is totally against idol worship. But during the period of Moses in Numbers 21:8 God says Moses to make a fiery serpent. Is it idol of serpent or a serpent with life? If it’s idol why did God himself asked to do that and said whoever bitten by snakes lives upon looking at that serpent? I am very disturbed with this scenario. Please guide me.

        • Lee says:

          Hi Dimple,

          You’re welcome. Glad to help.

          About the bronze snake in Numbers 21:4-9, it wasn’t an idol when it was first made, because the people didn’t worship it. After complaining against the Lord and getting bitten by poisonous snakes as a result, they were commanded to look at the bronze snake to be healed by the Lord. For them at that time, doing so was showing obedience to the Lord’s commandments, which is why they could be healed after rebelling and complaining against the Lord.

          However, many years later the Israelites did set it up as an idol and burn incense to it. See 2 Kings 18:1-4, where King Hezekiah destroys it for that reason.

          Then in the New Testament, Jesus refers to it as a symbol of his own crucifixion, and the healing that will come to people from it:

          Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. (John 3:14-15)

          From this we can see that an image or sculpture is not an idol unless people worship it. When the bronze snake was first made, it was not an idol. But when people started worshiping it and burning incense to it, it became an idol, and had to be destroyed. Then in New Testament times Jesus interpreted it as a symbol of his own crucifixion, giving it a more Christian and spiritual meaning.

          The most likely reason that Jesus did not speak about idols in the Gospels is that by that time, the Jews were not especially prone to worshiping idols. They had become more ingrained with the idea and belief that there is only one God, so that idol worship was no longer a major issue for them. However, during the time of the Acts and the Epistles, the Apostles were evangelizing to pagan idol-worshipers, so idols once again became an issue.

          My personal belief is that as long as you (or any other Christian) have no inclination to believe in or worship other gods besides the Lord God Jesus Christ, there is no longer any need to worry about eating food sacrificed to idols. Though I myself have no interest in making a regular practice of it, if I were visiting a Hindu area of the world, I would not have a problem participating in their rituals because I would see it as respecting their traditions, as their guests, rather than as worshiping multiple gods. Whatever meaning they might attach to it, I would interpret it more spiritually, as honoring various aspects of the one God of the universe.

          However, many conservative Christians are much more strict and literal about these things. Once again, you’ll have to make up your own mind. You live in a country and culture that is predominantly Hindu, which makes it much more of an issue for you than it is for me.

          Whatever decision you make, I would suggest politely telling people why you are or aren’t doing what you’re doing, and assure them that you respect their beliefs and traditions whether or not you can fully participate in them yourself.

    • believer says:

      Hi dimple. I’m eaxctly in the same situation like yours and the same thing my boyfriend is asking me. yet am so afraid of the fact that we cannot bow before other God’s. And am more concern with the children. If it were to me I wouldn’t have minded but is it allowed? can my children follow both religion?
      Just sharing similar concerns

      • Dimple says:

        Hi believer,

        I would suggest you if you follow Mr. Lee’s articles all your doubts will be half cleared and rest depends on how you tune your mind. Jesus said clearly in Bible that not all who calls me Lord is my child but the one who does my will. Mr. Lee even gave an example from Bible about namaan regarding idol worship while he believing our true god. So don’t worry. As long as you are confident that your guy gives you the freedom of choice in worshipping god, jus go ahead. If not but you still want him, forget your fears regarding idol worship and get along. Unless you bow to an idol with whole heart n mind your not sinning according to me. For example, Jesus our so called god is our father. Considering earthly relationships, you calling an unknown person as dad won’t make you his daughter nor will your dad become a stranger to you. I think the same logic applies with our faith. But careful that you never leave your faith. And about your children, try teaching them humanity with faith in god rather than religion with hatred among fellow human beings. Even if you marry a Christian there is no guarantee that your kids will be following Christianity. Faith is a personal relationship with God. No human on earth can change it. Even if your husband in future forces you for idol worship, just do it for happiness of family and avoid fights. Because if your not doing it with whole heart it’s meaningless. Hope I am not guiding you wrong. But its just my opinion. You need not follow me but I am just trying to say be a good human being. God loves spiritual fruits than religious fools. Bring out those fruits from your actions.

  22. Dimple says:

    Thank you so much for your guidance. But regarding idol of serpent I have another doubt. Irrespective of Jesus’ comparision I would like to know why God broke his own commandment which was mentioned in exodus 20:4.God said not to make any image but He Himself told Moses to make one. What must be God’s intention? May be a silly question but desperate to know the mystery behind. Whatever, I am really thankful to you and your guidance regarding my spiritual and love life. And really loving it going through your articles.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Dimple,

      Here is Exodus 20:1–6:

      And God spoke all these words, saying,

      “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

      “You shall have no other gods before me.

      “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

      Clearly, the intent is to prohibit the Israelites from making idols that they would worship as gods instead of or in addition to the Lord (YHWH, or Jehovah) their God. And since the ancient Israelites were very prone to idol worship and to worshiping other gods, as seen frequently in the Bible narrative, the commandment was very strict, and the punishment severe.

      However, if God commanded them to make particular sculptures, such as the bronze snake, or pictures of particular things in service of God, they were not idols because they were not worshiped as other gods, but rather were used in the service of the Lord their God.

      The bronze snake in Numbers 21 is not the only example of this.

      • Exodus 28:31-35 says that Aaron’s priestly robe must have pomegranates embroidered on its hem, with bells between them.
      • Solomon’s temple included designs or castings of pomegranates, lilies, gourds, bulls, cherubim, lions, and palm trees (see 1 Kings 7:13-40).
      • Even Solomon’s throne had twelve lions framing its steps (see 1 Kings 10:18-20).

      Clearly, then, the commandment against making graven images was not a blanket prohibition on all representational sculpture and artwork, but rather a prohibition on making representational sculpture and artwork for the purpose of worshiping it as an idol. And as the story of the bronze snake shows, even if the original intent was not to worship a sculpture, but to honor God’s commandments, if the sculpture later became an object of worship then it had become an idol and was to be destroyed.

      So the key issue is not making sculptures and artwork representing various figures and natural objects, but rather making them with the intent of worshiping them as gods.

  23. Dimple says:

    If God is so possessive, now how can non believers of Christ be saved? Because especially in India its all about idol worship. If I marry a Hindu guy can I be confident that he will be in heaven and what about my children? Will God now over look on idol worship? Because frankly speaking my boy friend is really good at heart. In fact he also doesn’t like idol worship but for sake of his parents he does. Will God accept him?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Dimple,

      The Old Testament tends to be quite stark and harsh in its commandments because the people who lived in Old Testament times were at a very low, unspiritual, materialistic level. They were harsh, brutal people. They only understood harsh, strict laws and punishments. Today, some people and cultures are still like that. But for the most part, society has grown beyond the harsh, brutal ways that reigned on earth several thousand years ago. The law need not be so harsh and brutal when people can be motivated by higher principles.

      I believe that God will accept all people who live a good and thoughtful life according to their own beliefs and their own conscience.

      But rather than expanding upon these very big questions in a comment, here are some articles that deal with them in more detail:

      That should keep you busy for a while! 😉

      • Dimple says:

        😂 awesome.. Thank you. Loving it.

      • believer says:

        Hi Lee,
        as far as i am concern I totally respect other religion and have always questioned myself, how can I actually say mine is right and theirs is not. Because in the manner I consider mine is the right one, in the same manner, others considered theirs to be the right one. it is perhaps for those reasons I end up letting myself fall in love with a Hindu. Beyond that fact, he is a man who is kind at heart and very caring for me and others. As a person, most people like him for his good nature. And he do respect other religion as well as mine. He even attends services with me. We both have decided not to force each other with our religion. But for the sake of his parents and relatives, I am in the same situation like Dimple. And a bigger question for me is regarding the children. I personally feel yes our children should know both religions so as to be fair with my husband. But I fear God, I fear the Church. I just want to know whether it would be a sin to let my follow both religions?

        • Lee says:

          Hi believer,

          You hit the nail on the head about other people thinking their religion is right just as we think ours is right. So do you think Hinduism is just plain wrong? If so, it’s going to be tough for you if you decide to marry a Hindu.

          I responded to some of your concerns here in reply to another comment of yours below. And everything I said to Dimple, and to others here, applies in your situation as well. As the article says, it’s not an easy situation!

          It sounds like you belong to a fairly conservative Christian denomination. If so, that, too, could be a real problem for you. Do you agree with the stances of your church? Is it the right church for you? If you stay with that church, it might be tough to bridge the gap if you marry a Hindu. You have some tough choices to make.

          My own view is that if you’re going to marry someone of another religion and have an equal partnership with that person, then you must let your children learn about both religions, and let them make their own choices as they grow up about what religion to follow. However, this is contrary to the teachings of many churches. It’s a difficult issue, and I wish you wisdom in considering it and deciding what to do.

          About God and different religions, here are some articles that might be helpful to you:

          Keep in mind, though, that these articles present a very different viewpoint than does most of traditional Christianity.

  24. Sharn says:

    Hi Lee,
    i have really enjoyed your article. I have carefully read it and most of the following comments
    I also have a pressing issue at hand that is almost similar to the cases you’ve been addressing.
    my boyfriend is a muslim and i am a Christian. He and i are very knowledgeable about our different beliefs. And so it hard trying to plan out a strategy how to lead him to Christ. He believes in the teachings of Jesus Christ. And doesn’t discriminate at all. He likes to interact with christians alot. He has even been to my church severally but he still goes for his regular prayers when due.
    I asked him how his parents would take it hearing about me. And he said they wouldn’t b too concerned about my belief but mainly on his social stratal. But my own parents would concern mainly on belief before financial status, because belief is most paramount to them.
    i also asked about our future kids if we eventually get married. And he said the children will make their choices. It is really a big on elle for me. I still love him. He is a very wonderful person and that is what i cherish more. But the whole i wish you were a muslim and i wish you were a Christian usually comes to our mind. I don’t know what to do .

    • Lee says:

      Hi Sharn,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. Yes, yours is a difficult situation—as is often the case with interfaith relationships.

      To be plain, as I said in the article, if you can’t happily marry him knowing that he may remain Muslim for the rest of his life, meaning for your entire marriage, then you probably shouldn’t marry him. If your continuous thought and goal during the marriage is going to be “how to lead him to Christ,” that is a prescription for a tense marriage, and likely future divorce, if he decides to retain his Muslim faith. If he is thinking the same way in reverse about you, then the problem is doubled. You need to have your religious issues resolved before you get married, not carry them into your marriage.

      I’m not saying it’s bad to lead people to Christ. Of course, that is a good thing. But getting married to a non-Christian with the intention of leading them to Christ during the course of the marriage is simply not a good idea. Even Paul, in his instructions about marriage in 1 Corinthians 7, does not say that believers who are married to unbelievers should lead them to Christ, but rather that the unbelieving partner is made holy through the believing partner, and that perhaps the one will save the other. And all of this is about couples who are already married.

      In short, if you cannot marry him as a Muslim, and be happy with him being a Muslim, then you should not marry him. And if he cannot marry you as a Christian, and be happy with you being a Christian, then he should not marry you.

      And of course, if you do plan to marry him, you and he need to come to an agreement before you get married about how you will raise any children you may have with regard to your respective faiths. He seems to want to teach the children about both religions, and let them choose between them as they grow older. Would that be acceptable to you? If not, and that is what he is thinking, then once again you are setting yourselves up for conflict if the two of you marry and have children.

      This may not be what you want to hear. And of course, it’s your life (and his) to live as you wish. But I would not want to see the two of you set yourselves up for conflict and pain if you were to get married without being able to accept one another’s faiths and with conflicting goals in your relationship and in your parenting.

  25. believer says:

    Hi Lee, I’m in a similar or rather the same situation as posted in this conundrum. I don’t force my partner to get converted into Christianity nor he forces me to leave my belief. he attends church services with me occasionally. But what worries me when he asked me to do the same. He is not wrong to expect, I agree. But aren’t we forbidden to worship other Gods? And about the children, aren’t they supposed to follow the same belief as mine. Is it possible to allow our children follow both religions, which is what he wants but I find hard to agree to as this is not what my Church would agree.

    • Lee says:

      Hi believer,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comments and questions. As I said in the article, these are difficult issues, on which each person facing this situation has to make up his or her own mind.

      The key is whether you think you are worshiping other gods if you take part in Hindu worship. My own view of God is very broad. I believe that all people who worship God in any form are worshiping the same God, because there is only one God. Even the different Hindu gods originated, I believe, in a recognition of different characteristics and aspects of the one God. It is an error to think of them as separate gods. But if we think of them as different ways God shows God’s self to us, then it can be reconciled with believing in one God.

      What does your boyfriend think about this? Does your boyfriend think the Hindu gods are each separate gods, or does he think of them as different manifestations of one God?

      On the other end of the spectrum, conservative Christianity, especially, takes a very strict and separatist view about the worship practices of other religions. They think of those religions as worshiping false gods, and thus as violating the commandment not to have any other gods and not to make and worship idols.

      Once again, you are going to have to make up your own mind about this. But if he attends your services while you are not willing to attend his, that is bound to cause friction in your relationship, since he is showing an openness to your religion that you are not showing to his. Hinduism, especially on its more mystical and philosophical end (as compared to popular Hinduism) is a very broad-minded religion. Much of Christianity is not so broad-minded. In relation to this, see especially the part of my article under the heading, “Fundamentalist, moderate, or mystical?”

      And about the children, that is another very tricky issue, on which you’re going to have to make up you own mind. Once again, if he’s willing to have them learn about your religion, but you’re not willing to have them learn about his, that could easily lead to much friction if the two of you do indeed get married and have children.

  26. Dimple says:

    Mr.Lee
    I am 3 years elder to my boy friend who I am willing to marry. Is it wrong if a girl marries a younger boy? Any supporting statements from Bible? Please guide me. Because all my family members are looking down on me for loving a younger boy and scolding me like I have done a disgusting thing. If I am not wrong and if Bible supports it, please gimme related passages from Bible so that I can show my family that i am not wrong even according to Bible.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Dimple,

      Believing the husband should be older than the wife is more of a cultural thing than a biblical thing. In some cultures this belief is very strong. In others, not so strong. And in others, it hardly matters.

      The Bible doesn’t say anything specifically about the age difference between married partners. The only crystal clear example we have of married couples whose relative ages are known is the marriage of Abraham and Sarah, in which Abraham was ten years older than Sarah. And it’s likely that for most couples in the Bible the husband was older. Women were married off very young, even as young teenagers, whereas men generally had to establish some sort of stable means of supporting a family before marrying, which meant they tended to be older. But this was not a commandment from God. It was simply a cultural and financial issue.

      Though as I said the Bible doesn’t say anything directly about the age gap between husbands and wives, there are two stories in the Bible that suggest that there was no commandment or absolute standard that the husband should be older. Both stories involve the law or custom of levirate marriage.

      The first is the story of Judah and Tamar in Genesis 38. I would recommend reading the whole chapter. It’s a complicated story. However, the relevant point is that Judah promised (but did not deliver) his youngest son Shelah to Tamar in marriage, even though Shelah was almost certainly younger than Tamar, since the reason Judah gave for not giving Shelah to Tamar immediately was that Shelah had to grow up first. Apparently his being younger than Tamar was not a reason they couldn’t be married.

      The second is the Sadducees’ question to Jesus about marriage at the resurrection, as asked in Matthew 22:23-27, Mark 12:18-23, and Luke 20:27-33. It’s a ridiculous hypothetical situation, but it shows something of how Jews of Jesus’ time thought about marriage. Now, if a woman married the oldest of seven brothers, and then married the remaining six younger brothers one by one as each older brother died, and if there were the usual age gap of 2-3 years between brothers, it’s very likely that the youngest brothers were younger than the woman who married the oldest brother.

      Neither of these stories is conclusive. Neither of them says, “It’s okay for an older woman to marry a younger man.” But they do give the impression that although the most common situation was for the man to be older than the woman, this was not an absolute requirement in Bible times. It was more of a social custom than a law.

      My own view is that age differences, especially fairly narrow ones such as three years, aren’t a major issue in marriage. Yes, if there’s a twenty or thirty year gap, that may raise some legitimate questions, especially if the two are relatively young. But three years is hardly even a factor. And as couples with these narrow age gaps get older, the few years between them become even less significant.

      And of course, if the two remain married in the afterlife, their biological age difference here on earth becomes completely irrelevant. It’s not something that the couple would normally even remember. In heaven people think spiritually rather than materially, and there is no chronological time there as we know it here on earth.

      So in terms of the relationship itself, I don’t see your being three years older than your boyfriend as much of an issue.

      Having said that, as you’re finding out the hard way, dealing with cultural and family resistance to such a thing can be very difficult. And that’s something you’re going to have to make up your own mind about, and deal with in your own way if you continue in the relationship.

      Life is complicated! :-/

  27. Stephanie says:

    Hello Lee, I loved your article on interfaith marriage. Sadly, I just got divorce. Due to my ex husband not respecting my Catholic believes. He is an evangelical christian who left me. I would get slap on a monthly basis for trying to compromise and not converting. I always felt that respect and tolerism along with compromise.Are major components in an interfaith marriage. He wanted for me to convert so that we no longer had fights. I always found it absurd. Those religions belief in almost the same things. We only have a differences.We almost share the same bible. With the exception that the Catholic bible has a few extra chapters. Also, that Catholics adore Mary.Regardless, of how much I will try to compromise and bring both worlds together. So that our family could be happy. He decided to leave and to look for someone who will do as he says and share same religion. I always had both of our interest at heart. By trying to make both of us happy. It’s so sad that even now in 2016 there is so much division. Where is the the love and unity that all these religions preach about. It’s so sad how in my case I got preached about my religions wrong doings. Yet, these people wouldn’t live in the life’s there religion claims them to be and live by.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Stephanie,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. I’m sorry to hear about your divorce. Unfortunately, as I said in the article, fundamentalists and evangelicals have the hardest time being married to someone who does not share their faith. And now you know from experience why that is.

      From my perspective, the heart of Christianity is not believing the “right” thing, as evangelicals commonly think, but rather loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving our neighbor as ourselves, as Jesus taught. If all of the Christian churches paid attention to Jesus’ teaching that everything else in the Bible depends upon these two commandments, we could all love one another and consider each other to be spiritual brothers and sisters, even if we differed on particular doctrines. But since much of Christianity has long since abandoned Jesus’ teachings in favor of human-invented doctrines such as salvation by faith alone, we have created all sorts of division and conflict that is completely unnecessary.

      Meanwhile, I’m glad you enjoyed the article and found it helpful. Our thoughts and prayers are with you as you rebuild your life after your recent divorce.

  28. Sasya says:

    i really adore you and your articles.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Sasya,

      Thank you for stopping by, and for your kind words. Annette and I are so glad that you find the articles here helpful and inspiring!

  29. Alyssa Moore says:

    Hello Lee,

    I love this article and it has given me some good insight into my situation.
    I am in love with a man that I have been with and known for two years this summer. He is a wonderful man, we both deeply love and care for each other, have the same moral ideas, etc.
    In the start of our relationship I was not as concerned with my faith as I am now and he no longer feels that he is a believer. He says he once was very religious, spiritual, and close to God but has fallen away the past couple of years. I truly can see myself happily marring him and I know he would make a wonderful husband and father, though I voiced to him my concerns about after we are married, how will our children be raised? etc. and he explained that he has no problem going to church with me and likes to hear some sermons and prayers, and is fine raising our children christian.
    I have been worried that maybe because he is no longer a believer that it’s my responsibility to leave, but he is someone I truly love who has been there for me through very difficult times and completely loves me and accepts me for what I believe and who I am so should I do the same? Is there a difference between being with someone who mocks Christianity and someone who was once very close and states that they sometimes miss it and wouldn’t mind going back to church with me and raising our children in my religion? I’ve just recently started praying to God about it, I am not nearly as religious as I am spiritual with God though, in other words I mostly express my faith through talking with him and prayer and try not to take a very strict, damnation approach to the word if that makes any sense? I believe that God judges our hearts and is very forgiving, though it still concerns me.
    Any thoughts? Sorry for the length and thank you for the article.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Alyssa,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for telling your story. I’m glad the article is helpful to you.

      Of course, I can’t tell you what to do. Only you are in your shoes. But it certainly sounds to me like this man respects your beliefs and your desire to bring up any children you might have in your religion. And that’s a good sign. Assuming he continues to feel the same way about it, and you’re comfortable marrying him even if he doesn’t share your religious beliefs, then I don’t see any major red flags.

      But once again, that’s a very personal decision, and one that only you (and he) can make.

  30. Rohan says:

    Hello lee sir.
    I am a hindu boy from Mumbai India in love with a christian girl who have undergone baptism. She dnt follow my religion. And m afraid after marriage she will ask me to follow her as well as our children. I m nt a very religious person but i dont want to leave my cultural values. I m ready to accompany her to church but she will not come with me to temple. I am afraid if our marriage will work. And all these things have created a distance between us. She is very committed to her faith. All the time she keep telling me about her faith and that all other religions are not true and there is only one god and that is the way to heaven othrewise one will go to hell. I dont know what to do. Please help.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Rohan,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment and question.

      Of course, you will have to make up your own mind about this. But from what you describe, things don’t look good for this relationship. It’s clear that your girlfriend is a committed Christian of the more conservative type that doesn’t accept other religions as valid pathways to God. If you are not interested in becoming a Christian, but want to stay with your Hindu cultural heritage and values, that will cause continual mental and emotional conflict between you and her—as you have already experienced.

  31. Jeff Manabat says:

    what can you say about this article sir: “would you still love me mom, if you knew I’m not religous?”

    • Lee says:

      Hi Jeff,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment and question. It sounds like you’re facing a personal issue (or perhaps a friend of yours is?) about feeling that your mother (or future mother-in-law?) would not accept you if she knew you weren’t religious. And that is indeed a difficult situation. I can’t tell you what to do, since only you are in your shoes. However, especially for people who are still living with parents, sometimes it’s best just to keep quiet until you move out on your own. But that’s not always possible to do in good conscience. And parents are sometimes more understanding than their children expect. But that, too, varies widely. At any rate, if this is a situation you personally are facing, I wish you wisdom and good luck in deciding how to handle it.

  32. […] faiths are likely to have differences in life choices, attitudes and beliefs. Spiritual writer Lee Woofenden […]

  33. haze says:

    Hi lee,

    Im a christian and my husband to be is not and we both agree to a lot of things and we talk about it and have a mutual agreement or respect. I do love him a lot and everyone knows that ( friends and family.) for me religion is just a wall i don’t have one but i know i have personal relationship with God and pray for my bf as well everyday. Now we ask my pastor to officiate our wedding but unfortunately he said he can’t because other one is not same faith. I was Hurt and wonder and we told one of my family member and she just started to preach to my bf and i know that it her opinion i didn’t say anything in front of them as I’m listening to their sides. I was just thinking and thinking but as soon as my bf leaves he was so upset coz one of my family is preaching and he felt like being judged. And as i read a lot of articles and passage. For me even though we have different faith as long as understanding , same goals in life and respect each other and agreeing to each other for me that’s fine. but right now thing changed after what he heard from one of my family member he was mad and pissed right now he doesn’t want to go to church ( he goes to church to be there with me ) but now he changed his mind after what he heard. And i told him this is all up to both of us and i understand that he felt judged and disrespect, but i told him that is her opinion and it’s up to us both what we agree together in the end this is mutual decision. To be honest i really don’t know what to do right now, I’m being open minded for me i never asked him to convert and vice versa only our families wants us to convert in one faith. And even though they are our respective family and i do understand family just want the best for us but we have our own decision and God gave us both minds to decide. But right now he felt disrespect and doesn’t want to go to church doesn’t the future kids to go to church. And i don’t want to agree on that coz i told him i respect what belief he was and respect mine but don’t take away from me. And because he was hurt of what one of my family said he let me choose now which is not fair for me. I really don’t know what to do as much as i do love him a lot. And i understand he is angry but hopefully it will change in the future and hoping and praying that things will be well with us despite this difficult situation.

    • Lee says:

      Hi haze,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for telling your story.

      I’m sorry to hear about your recent struggles. Your relationship with your boyfriend is going through a test now. This test will tell you a great deal about how strong the relationship is compared to the other influences and forces working on the two of you. And as hard as it is to go through this sort of test, it is a good thing for it to happen now, before the two of you get married, than to have it all come crashing down on you after you’re already married.

      Specifically, your relationship is being tested as to whether your connection with each other and your love for one another is stronger than your connections to your families, to your church, and to your differing religious beliefs.

      You didn’t say whether your boyfriend is non-religious or of a different faith. Either way, that is a potential dividing line between you. And especially when it comes to raising your future children religious or not, the two of you will have to come to some sort of agreement on that. If you can’t, your relationship is in trouble.

      Each of you will also have to decide and discern whether your connection to each other is stronger than your connection to your respective families, with their lack of approval of the two of you getting married when you don’t share the same faith or belong to the same church.

      Further, if you do decide to get married, assuming one of you does not convert to the other person’s beliefs and church, it seems clear enough that you will have to find a different church to get married in (if you want a church wedding), since the pastor of your current church is not willing to marry you unless you are of the same faith. So you will have to decide how important it is to you to stick with that church and pastor. It’s clear enough that if you do, that is going to be a serious problem for any future marriage with your boyfriend.

      It’s not just that your current pastor won’t marry you. It’s that he and his congregation will not respect the marriage even if you do get married by another pastor, or in a civil ceremony. And that means that you probably won’t be able to attend that church together anyway, nor bring your children there without causing serious friction in your marriage. Your boyfriend / husband is not going to want his children being taught and influenced by a church and pastor that disapprove of your marriage relationship and do not accept him as your valid husband.

      Obviously I can’t tell you what to do. That is something you and your boyfriend will each have to decide for yourselves, and both decide together. As you face and make that decision, it will tell you whether you have the type of inner connection to one another and love for one another that can withstand and overcome these types of challenges, both now and in the future.

      If it becomes clear that the forces dividing you are just too great, then as hard as that is to bear, it’s better to find that out now, and break off the relationship now, instead of finding out only after you’ve tied the knot that there are insuperable obstacles to your relationship.

      But if it becomes clear that your love for one another and your connection to one another is strong enough that you are willing to value it over your relationships with your families and with your current church and pastor, then Annette and I wish you all happiness in your future life together.

      • Haze says:

        Hi lee,

        Thank u so much for replying me. I am struggling right now and my famiy already accept him since before but now that my pastor said that he cant officiate us it brought up the issue again. I mean weve been u into a lot of trials and we do understand and respect my pastor’s decision. But its really hard because he didnt even consider me as a believer and give us some councelling and i believe in god that i dont know when can god move my bf heart, i dont asked him to convert because i know he will not do that. My bf is believeing in meditation which is im not against that, and now feels like dont want to go back to that church because all his teaching some of it This pastor didnt even apply it. I mean i gi to church because i want to learn more about gods grace. And religion for me is just an organization. Personal connection with god is the most important for me and thats what i really want my future kids to do. But before my bf doesnt mind if in the future kids go to church but right now with all the friction i dont know about his thinking. I just really need prayer. Right now one of my family saw that im really struggling and she knows that she made something but its been done my bf felt judge. I just dont know what to do as im hurt and been down. I do love him. Im not really devoted one to go to church every sunday as i have work. I believe that in any area u can pray to god.. Worship him… For me that really matters. As i know too that some of so called christian they go and be devoted to go to church every sunday but their ways are same. I mean i didnt say in general but some of so called christian are like that. And thats why i dont believe as well if ur a christian u must go to church and spend time to god on that day. Coz in every day lives u can spend time with god.i do really want me and my bf to fox this things but right now for him its still fresh.

        • Lee says:

          Hi Haze,

          You’re welcome. I hope my thoughts were helpful to you. Your situation with your boyfriend is going to take time to work out. These are all challenges to your relationship. And they are forcing you to think deeply not only about your relationship to him, but about your relationship to the church you have been attending.

          If, after this latest challenge, the two of you still want to be together, and still want to be married, perhaps by finding a church with a pastor who is willing to marry you knowing you are not of the same religious faith and beliefs, you will also find a church that your boyfriend will be more comfortable attending with you, and having your children grow up in.

          Meanwhile, our thoughts and prayers are with you.

        • Haze says:

          Hi lee,

          Thank u so much its really helping me to think and realize things.. Praying for us as well and also for the church that hopefully he will attend.. I just really lift our relationship to god. That we can surpass this trial and challenges in our lives. Its really hard but i really want him to be my husband coz with all honesty i do love him a lot. And with regards to my church i think i need to find a new one who accept us and yes lee ur right. Because me myself im not comfortable to stay there after this things happen.we both understand and respect his decision not to officiate but it was a slap in my face considered i was a believer and to think he knows my bf since 3 yrs ago. Dont get me wrong he is a good pastor but sometimes in life what we preach we should also apply it in our life…god loves the israelites but god also love eho are not israelites… And in his preaching of ny pastor reach out to the people and put a seed on it and let god take care and let the seed grow in it. But he didnt apply that.. Anyways pray for us thank u again

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Lee & Annette Woofenden

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