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Interfaith marriage, traditionally called mixed marriage, a form of Exogamous marriage and 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.

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.

Views of Bahá'í Faith[edit | edit source]

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.

Bible-based faiths[edit | edit source]

Views of Christianity[edit | edit source]

Main article: Interfaith marriage and 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 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 Judaism[edit | edit source]

Main article: 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. Although most of the Talmudic writers concede that the Deuteronomic law referred only to marriage to Canaanites, they themselves still forbade marriage with the other nationalities[1]. The situation is slightly complicated by the fact that the Talmudic writers viewed Christianity as being at the gate of Judaism[2], and hence marriages between Christians and Jews were not seen by them as prohibited[3]; in 1236 Moses of Coucy tried to break up such marriages[4], but in 1844, the Rabbinical Conference of Brunswick, in 1844, 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].

Classical Jewish writers, and those of the middle ages, regarded converts as Jews, in relation to these rules; marriage between a Jew and a convert to Judaism was not regarded as intermarriage[5][6][7]. Hence, all the Biblical passages which appear to support intermarriages, such as that of Joseph to Asenath, and that of Ruth, were regarded by the classical rabbis as having occurred only after the foreign spouse had converted to Judaism[8]. A similar attitude is expressed by modern Conservative Judaism, which 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[9]. The Talmudic writers, however, still forbade intermarriage with Canaạnites even if they had converted to Judaism[10][11].

The more popular forms of modern Judaism - Reform, Progressive (known in the USA as Reconstructionist), and Liberal - 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]. All branches of Orthodox Judaism refuse to accept any validity or legitimacy of intermarriages, and try to avoid assisting them to take place.

In the early 19th century exogamy 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], a similar proportion (44%) was the case for early 20th century New 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, regardless of denomination, as precipitating a crisis; some religious conservatives now even speak metaphorically of intermarriage as a silent holocaust.

Views of Samaritanism[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

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[citation needed].

Thus, the Hindus have never hesitated to respect the freedom of other faiths to coexist[citation needed] and flourish and thus inter-religious marriages are accepted in Hindu society. It also does not put any obligation of faith on the non-Hindu partner. Inter-caste marriages were somewhat frowned upon but this too is becoming more acceptable with time[citation needed]. In metropolitan cities it is common to find couples with different faith, caste and regional background[citation needed]. There are numerous laws in the Indian legal system, safeguarding inter-faith marriage[citation needed]. Examples of such marriages occasionally appear in Kipling's stories[citation needed]. In the wake of outward conversions to other religions and lack of inward conversions into Hinduism, it lacks the vitality for growth, which is seen in almost all other religions.

Views of Islam[edit | edit source]

Main article: Interfaith marriage in Islam

Islam allows a man to marry a woman from the People of the Book (Christians and Jews). 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 strictly 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. When he converts 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}

Views of Zoroastrianism[edit | edit source]

The majority of traditional Zoroastrians and Parsis in India openly disapprove and discourage inter-faith marriages. Adherents who go through a inter-faith marriage are often "kicked out" of the religion. When a adherent marries their partner from another religion, they go through the risk of not being able to enter the Agyaris and Atash Behram's. Their partner and children are totally forbidden from entering the following establishments. 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.

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Kiddushin 68b
  2. Isaac ben Sheshet, Responsa, No. 119
  3. 3.0 3.1 Jewish Encyclopedia, Intermarriage
  4. Moses of Coucy, Sefer Mitzvot ha-Gadol, 112
  5. Berakhot 28a
  6. Kiddushin 5:4 (Tosefta)
  7. Shulchan 'Aruk, Eben ha-'Ezer 4:10
  8. Genesis Rabbah, 65
  9. Leadership Council of Conservative Judaism, Statement on Intermarriage, Adopted on 7th March, 1995
  10. 'Abodah Zarah 34b
  11. Yebamot 76a
  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

References[edit | edit source]

  • 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]

External links[edit | edit source]

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