Interfaith marriage

Interfaith marriage

Interfaith marriage, traditionally called mixed marriage, is marriage (either religious or civil) between partners professing different religions. Some religious doctrines prohibit interfaith marriage, and while others do allow it, most restrict it. An ethno-religious group's resistance to interfaith marriage can constitute a form of self-segregation.

Interfaith marriage typically connotes a marriage in which both partners remain adherents to their distinct religion, and as such it is distinct from concepts of religious conversion, religious assimilation, cultural assimilation, religious disaffiliation, and apostasy. Nevertheless, despite the distinction, these issues typically are raised and need to be dealt with in the context of planning an interfaith marriage.

Some religious groups forbid all inter-faith marriage. Most religions of the Book (Christianity, Islam and Judaism) traditionally oppose interfaith marriages. Islam, for example, enforces a limited form of endogamy – Muslim men can take chaste wives from neighbouring non-Muslim populations but Muslim women are normally forbidden to marry outside of the Muslim community.


Views of Judaism

Interfaith marriage in Judaism|In Judaism, interfaith marriage]] was historically looked upon with very strong disfavour by Jewish leaders, and it remains an enormously controversial issue. The Talmud and later authorities prohibit non-Jews to Jews, and discuss when the prohibition is from the Torah and when it is rabbinic.[1] In 1236, Moses of Coucy induced those Jews who had contracted marriages with Christian or Mohammedan women to dissolve them.[2] In 1844, the Rabbinical Conference of Brunswick permitted Jews to marry any adherent of a monotheistic religion, as long as any children of the marriage would be able to be brought up as Jewish.[3] This conference was highly controversial; one of its resolutions called on its members to abolish the Kol Nidre prayer, which opens the Yom Kippur service.[4] One member of the Brunswick Conference later changed his opinion, becoming an opponent of intermarriage.[5] Any non-Jew who wants to can become a Jew.

Traditional Judaism does not consider marriage between a Jew by birth and a convert as an intermarriage.[6][7][8] Hence, all the Biblical passages that appear to support intermarriages, such as that of Joseph to Asenath, and that of Ruth to Boaz, were regarded by the classical rabbis as having occurred only after the foreign spouse had converted to Judaism.[9] Some opinions, however, still considered Canaanites forbidden to marry even after conversion; this did not necessarily apply to their children.[10]

Orthodox Judaism refuses to accept any validity or legitimacy of intermarriages, and tries to avoid assisting them to take place.

Conservative Judaism does not sanction intermarriage, but encourages acceptance of the non-Jewish spouse within the family, hoping that such acceptance will lead to the spouse's conversion to Judaism.[11]

Reform, Progressive (known in the USA as Reconstructionist), and Liberal Judaism do not generally regard the opinions of the classical rabbis as having any force, and so many rabbis from these denominations are willing to officiate at interfaith marriages;[12][13] they do, though, still try to persuade intermarried couples to raise their children as Jews. As with many religious denominations, however, there are a few dissenting voices; in 1870 some Reform Jews published the opinion that intermarriage is prohibited.[14]

In the early 19th century intermarriage was comparatively rare – less than a tenth of a percent (0.1%) of the Jews of Algeria, for example, practiced exogamy,[15] but since the early 20th century, rates of Jewish intermarriage have increased drastically. In the United States of America between 1996 and 2001, nearly half (47%) of marriages involving Jews were intermarriages with non-Jewish partners,[16] and a similar proportion (44%) existed during the early 20th century in South Wales.[17] The possibility that this might lead to the gradual dying out of Judaism, much like the historic fate of Arianism, is regarded by most Jewish leaders[who?], regardless of denomination, as precipitating a crisis[citation needed]; some religious conservatives[who?] now even speak metaphorically of intermarriage as a silent holocaust[citation needed]. Overall, there is a relatively high level of resistance to inter-faith marriage in Judaism[citation needed] and this often constitutes a form of self-segregation - preventing Jewish communities from integrating and merging with surrounding populations around the world[citation needed].

Views of Samaritanism

Samaritan men are allowed to marry women outside their community, on the condition that the wife accept the Samaritans' practices. This lies short of conversion and can qualify as interfaith marriage. The decision to allow this kind of marriage has been taken in modern times to keep the Samaritan community from dying out of genetic disease. In addition, Samaritans interpret the (Samaritan) Torah to indicate that Israelite status is determined by the father, hence children of Samaritan men are considered Israelites, whereas children of non-Samaritan men are considered non-Israelite.

Views of Hinduism

Hinduism declares that there are always innumerable paths to God, and that one’s belief or perception of God is an individual matter and best left to the individual to decide his own path.

Interfaith marriage is uncommon in India, especially in the rural areas. There are many social rules surrounding marriage and individuals are under enormous pressure to marry within their caste and religion,though almost all prefer to marry within their community on the belief that they share common beliefs and practices. To break such rules could cost the support of friends, family, and community; a heavy price in such a community-oriented society. In developed and metro areas it is much more common to see marriage between different caste and religion, but even there social pressures (especially from parents) often discourage interfaith marriages.

Interfaith marriage especially between Hindus and Muslims often have been the bone of contention and have resulted in communal riots in India.Many claim the extreme activity of Love Jihad by Islamists where Non-Muslim girls especially Hindu girls are targeted for conversion to Islam by feigning love.[18][19][20]

Views of Zoroastrianism

The majority of traditional Zoroastrians and Parsis in India openly disapprove and discourage interfaith marriages. Adherents who go through a inter-faith marriage are often expelled from the religion. When an adherent marries their partner from another religion, they go through the risk of not being able to enter the Agyaris and Atash Behram's. In the past, their partner and children were totally forbidden from entering the following establishments, which is often still upheld today. A loophole was soon found to avoid such expulsion: offspring, especially born out of wedlock, from a Parsi man and a non-Parsi woman were often legitimatized through "adoption" by the Parsi father, and as such they were tacitly accepted into the religion. Inter-faith marriages are a constant annoyance to the Zoroastrian demographics, considering the numbers are low already and inter-faith marriages just make them smaller.

According to the Indian law, where most Parsis reside, only the father of the child must be a Zoroastrian for the child or children to be accepted into the faith. There have been great debates over this, as the religion promotes gender equality, which this man-made law violates. Zoroastrians in North America and Europe have denied accepting this rule and defy it. The children and a non-Zoroastrian father are accepted as Zoroastrians.

Views of Christianity

Some churches forbid interfaith marriage, drawing from 2 Corinthians 6:14, and in some cases Deuteronomy 7:3. There is a distinction between inter-Church and interfaith marriages, often based on the opportunities given to the female Christian to educate her children.

Many Christians[citation needed] believe that anyone has the freedom to choose her or his partner for life. This attitude is found most often among those who may be identified as liberal Christians. It is supported by part of the Pauline privilege, in 1 Corinthians 7:12–14, with the central sentence: "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband."

Views of Islam

Islam allows men to marry women from the People of the Book. The early jurists of the most prominent schools of Islamic jurisprudence ruled in fiqh law that the marriage of a Muslim man to a Christian or Jewish woman is makruh (disliked) if they live in a non-Muslim country. Caliph Umar (634–644) denied interfaith marriage for Muslim men during his command of the ummah. In the Quran, it is said,

This day are (all) things good and pure made lawful unto you. The food of the People of the Book is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them. (Lawful unto you in marriage) are (not only) chaste women who are believers, but chaste women among the People of the Book, revealed before your time – when ye give them their due dowers, and desire chastity, not lewdness, nor secret intrigues if any one rejects faith, fruitless is his work, and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (all spiritual good). {Surah 5:5}

Islam generally forbids Muslim women from marrying non-Muslim men. If a non-Muslim woman is married to a non-Muslim, and she converts to Islam, the marriage is suspended until her husband converts to Islam, and she could in theory leave the non-Muslim husband and marry a Muslim one (analogous to the Pauline privilege among Catholics). If the non-Muslim husband does convert a new marriage is not needed. In the Quran, it is said,

O ye who believe! When there come to you believing women refugees, examine (and test) them: Allah knows best as to their Faith: if ye ascertain that they are Believers, then send them not back to the Unbelievers. They are not lawful (wives) for the Unbelievers, nor are the (Unbelievers) lawful (husbands) for them. But pay the Unbelievers what they have spent (on their dower), and there will be no blame on you if ye marry them on payment of their dower to them. But hold not to the guardianship of unbelieving women: ask for what ye have spent on their dowers, and let the (Unbelievers) ask for what they have spent (on the dowers of women who come over to you). Such is the command of Allah. He judges (with justice) between you. And Allah is Full of Knowledge and Wisdom. {Surah 60:10}

Marriage between muslim woman and a non- muslim man is possible only in the condition if he accepts Islam completely so that he shall boy cott all other faiths and believe only in what Allah says and what is written in Quran. If he accepts it just for the sake of marriage the marriage will not be possible.

Views of Bahá'í Faith

According to the Bahá'í Faith, all religions are inspired by God, therefore interfaith marriage is allowed. In that case, the Bahá'í ceremony should be performed, and the non-Bahá'í rite or ceremony can also be performed. If it is the case that both ceremonies are performed, the non-Bahá'í ceremony should not invalidate the Bahá'í ceremony and it should be made clear to all that the Bahá'í partner is a Bahá'í and is not accepting the religion of the other partner by going through with the ceremony. The Bahá'í partner should also abstain from undertaking any vows or statements that commit the Bahá'í to any declaration of faith in another religion or that are contrary to the principles of the Bahá'í Faith. The two ceremonies should happen on the same day, but the order is not important. The Bahá'í ceremony may be performed in the place of worship of the other religion provided that it is given equal respect to that of the non-Bahá'í ceremony and is clearly distinct from the non-Bahá'í ceremony.

See also


  1. ^ Talmud Bavli, Avodah Zarah 36b; Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Sanctity, Laws of Prohibited Relations 12:1 and commentaries; Rabbi Yosef Karo, Shulchan Aruch II:16:2 and commentaries
  2. ^ Moses of Coucy, Sefer Mitzvot ha-Gadol, 112, as per JE
  3. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia, Intermarriage
  4. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia, "Conferences, Rabbinical"
  5. ^ Ludwig Philippson, Israelitische Religionslehre (1865), 3:350
  6. ^ Berakhot 28a
  7. ^ Kiddushin 5:4 (Tosefta)
  8. ^ Rabbi Yosef Karo, Shulchan Aruch III:4:10
  9. ^ Genesis Rabbah, 65
  10. ^ Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Sanctity, Laws of Prohibited Relations, 12:22 and Maggid Mashnah ad. loc.
  11. ^ Leadership Council of Conservative Judaism, Statement on Intermarriage, Adopted on 7th March, 1995
  12. ^ Survey of the American Rabbinate, The Jewish Outreach Institute, [1] (retrieved 6th May 2009)
  13. ^ Summary of Rabbinic Center for Research and Counseling 2003 Survey, Irwin H. Fishbein, Rabbi, D. Min., Rabbinic Center for Research and Counseling, [2] (retrieved 6th May 2009)
  14. ^ D.Einhorn, in The Jewish Times, (1870), No. 45, p. 11
  15. ^ Ricoux, Demography of Algeria, Paris, 1860, p. 71
  16. ^ National Jewish Population Survey 2000-01
  17. ^ Census of New South Wales, 1901, Bulletin No. 14
  18. ^ [3]
  19. ^ [4]
  20. ^ [5]


  • This is My Friend, This is My Beloved: A Pastoral Letter on Human Sexuality (Jewish) Elliot N. Dorff, The Rabbinical Assembly
  • It All Begins with a Date: Jewish Concerns about Intermarriage: Jewish Concerns about Intermarriage, Alan Silverstein, Jason Aronson, 1995, ISBN 1-56821-542-8
  • Leadership Council of Conservative Judaism, Statement on Intermarriage. Adopted on March 7, 1995
  • 'Why Marry Jewish: Surprising Reasons for Jews to Marry Jews', Doron Kornbluth, [Targum/Feldheim], 2003, ISBN 1-56871250-2
  • 'Dear Rabbi, Why Can't I Marry Her?', Eliezer Shemtov, [Targum/Feldheim], 2006, ISBN 1-56871-410-6
  • Strange Wives: Intermarriage in the biblical world, Stanley Ned Rosenbaum and Allen Secher [forthcoming]

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