The wedding is two weeks away and there is still so much to do! But today I’m going to address an issue that is near and dear to my heart.
I was recently asked to address the topic of interfaith marriage. Faith is an important question to address before you get married. Danny is a Christian and I am a Messianic Jew. Even though we have the same core beliefs, how we practice these beliefs is very different.
From the beginning, Danny has been very supportive of how I practice my faith. When we started dating, he began keeping Kosher. It was not a personal conviction for him, but he knew it was important to me. He has participated in almost every Jewish holiday…and there are a lot! From Chanukah to Yom Kippur, he’s been there. Yet he has never felt the need to convert. He is proud of his Italian/Irish heritage and his Christian faith. I don’t want him to change.
I believe faith is important. Don’t avoid the issue of faith with your intended. If you do, it can lead to a lot of heart ache and conflict down the road. At the very beginning of our relationship, Danny and my first “fight” was whether or not we would have a Christmas tree in our home. It may sound silly, but both of us took a hard stand and it created tension. We wanted to maintain our identities, and we were both afraid to lose who we were.
I believe faith is beautiful, yet it so easily causes division, even between people who believe the same thing. The Christmas tree issue wasn’t the last time we had a tense conversation about faith, but each time the issue arose, we realized we could talk it through and come together on the issue. The bottom line of being an interfaith couple is respect and communication. Talk about what’s important to you. Come to a common ground and move forward. Don’t let faith become a dividing wall. Let it fill your lives will fulfillment, peace and joy.
The Wedding Ceremony…Christian or Jewish?
Danny and I had to decide this question early on. I wanted a Messianic Jewish ceremony but he wanted to include Christian elements. At first I was hesitant, I wanted it completely my way. But marriage isn’t about getting your way on every issue.
We agreed that the rabbi of the synagogue where I grew up should perform the ceremony. In the course of our pre-marital counselling with him, he gave us an outline of his standard wedding ceremony, but he said we could change anything we wanted.
So one night, Danny and I went through the ceremony. I took out some of the elements of a traditional Jewish service that were not as important to me and we plugged in some traditional Christian elements that were meaningful to him. When we finished, I read through the service. It was cohesive, it was thoughtful…it was us. Our ceremony reflects who we are—two people with strong faiths who have chosen to meld their lives into one.
Faith doesn’t have to be a wall. Faith should be a bridge that beautifully joins lives together.