I am a Christian getting married to a Hindu…..
Anu asked: April 11, 2011 at 10:55 am [see reply by admin below]
I am a Christian (Lutheran) getting married to a Hindu fiancé in December. We will celebrate a Hindu shaadi in India and receive blessings from a Christian priest in my home country, and we are happy to accommodate both traditions without expecting the conversion of the other. We both fell in love with the other as the whole person, created by their cultural and religious upbringin as well.
However, I wish to comment on what you said about Christians and baptism. I find it an intolerant statement that we both (myself included) could not celebrate the rituals involved in naming a child. I want to baptise our children, not for religious reasons but for the reason that not accepting the rituals of my heritage implies not accepting my identity and equal parenthood. For the same reason I heartfully wish to celebrate namakarana samskara so as to not leave out the other parent’s background and raise children who are comfortable with an unique blend of backgrounds and a duality of religion. The same goes for the yearly celebrations of Diwali, Saraswati puja as well as the first haircut of a child, etc.
But to me, it seems you have defined religious tolerance as refusing or belittleing the other partner’s tradition when it involves Christian rites. Would you not agree that it would be entirely unjust to demand the other parent to let go of their Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or Buddhist rites – that, effectively, also produce religious identity? Do you not see the discrepancy? What is your reason for thinking that it is the unilateral right of the other spouse to deny the performance of rite XYZ on their children, because whether you see it or not, this is what you are suggesting?
More importantly, in an interfaith marriage, I find the best advice to be “always ‘in addition to’, never ‘instead of’.” Rejection is the one surefire way to generate cleavages, inequality and resentment in a relationship. I wholly agree with Nancy who says we can all be just as defensive, and this comes out when both partner’s backgorunds are not allowed to be expressed to the fullest. For this reason I do not feel that your advice is equally based or even productive.
I hope we can have an enlightening discussion on the topic. It should be noted that we may have very different conceptions of the definition or ‘baptism’ as a rite. I do not consider it a rite that is exclusive and binding children to a single religion only. On the other hand, I do not consider Hindu rites neutral. We should appreciate both to their fullest.
I should also note that we have been living together for three years, have had numerous discussions about our beliefs anding on ‘agree to disagree’ and have a puja altar in the house. I take full part in festivals and he visits church with me, on the rare occasion that I do so.
As a parent I consider it my duty to ensure the children feel at home in both of their parents’ traditions. To not teach them about Hinduism as well as Christianity would be to hurt their future groth to balanced adults. However, I am not going to teach them that “there are multiple forms of THE GOD, be that Allah, Jesus or Krishna” – to require a person to teach this would be equivalent to requiring them teach the Hindu concept of Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma, and I am not or ever will be Hindu, neither will my husband be Christian. Instead, we both are going to teach them what Mom believes and what Dad believes, and that people with different beliefs can get along, both within a family and in a society.
I feel like it is necessary to state all this, because it seems to me that you have profound mistrust towards ‘Abrahamic’ spouses and have grouped them under a label of suspicion – as if there is always a fundamentalist in them waiting to come out that requires monitoring: “You gave “one good (!!!) Christian” example, covering experiences up to the marriage time for a friend’s daughter. Did you followed up this marriage after kids, if they have kids by now?”. This is not to deny that many spouses become increasingly conservative after having children, regardless of their faith.
I also deeply respect your quest for religious tolerance. Still, I ask you to look at how, just maybe, your way of defining a tolerant spouse has affinities to Hinduism and is therefore not the ideal place to begin a dialogue in an interfaith marriage.
admin says: April 29, 2011 at 6:42 am
It is great that you are willing to respect two religions and traditions and looking for EQUALITY for both faiths. With such a beautiful thought, you will have a happy and long lasting married life.
Let’s evaluate some of your statements for a reality check.
You mentioned that “I want to baptise our children” and “I heartfully wish to celebrate namakarana samskara…..” This is a beautiful polytheist pluralistic thought. However, such religious labeling has no place in an interfaith marriage with equality for the following reasons:
1) RELIGIOUS LABELING: Baptism is the act to cleanse former (Hindu?) sins and practices, and later live with Jesus Christ forever. It is not fair to give such an irreversible religious label on an interfaith child. If namakarana samskara is also considered a religious label, keep both out. Let the child decide own religion at his or her 21 years of age, fair?
2) NO DUAL LABELING: All Christians and Jews know that a child cannot have Baptism (to announce the child Christian) as well as Bris (to announce the child Jew) circumcision ceremonies. Watch videos here. The same true for Baptism and Sunat (to announce a child Muslim). Further, even within Christian faiths, a Lutheran will not tolerate a Catholic, Greek-orthodox or Mormon Baptism!!! To ask any non-Lutheran, like a Sikh or Jehovah’s Witness, a Lutheran-Baptism is not fair. Religious labeling has no place in interfaith marriages with equality.
3) CIRCUMCISION: The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend routine circumcision. Further, there is no medical issue noted or heard for a billion plus of uncircumcised Hindus around the World. To have foreskin on the penis is not a birth defect to be surgically corrected, rather the foreskin has abundant nerve endings designed to increase sexual sensation. Do your sons have to have circumcision even though there is no scientific merit to it? Remember what your God told…..”There is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your descendants after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised,” God commands Abraham (Genesis 17:11), “Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.” Instead of cutting child’s body part for an irrational religious dogma, let the interfaith child make his own choice at his age 21.
4) EXCLUSIVITY: Are you taught in your church that Jesus is the only savior and any unbaptized will go to hell? Did you understood, like Mckenna Smith, that….. Mahatma Gandhi will go to hell; while Mother Teresa will go to heaven?
5) If you don’t believe that Baptism and circumcision are a must to go to heaven, why would you insist for it on your interfaith child?
You want Baptism just as a rite, but you believe it is not exclusive and binding. However, your religious leaders will correct you that Baptism is not a hollow ritual devoid of meaning. Here, Baptism as a ritual, just for namesake without any meaning, is not a concern but the thought process behind asking for Baptism and rigid dogmas to follow is a concern.
Now let’s look at a deeper question…Who is THE God? Is Jesus the only savior? Or, in addition Allah, LORD God of Israel, Buddha and Krishna could also lead to salvation? Why you ….disagreed to have a puja altar in the house, but you are willing to do the Saraswati puja??!! Is Saraswati puja not idol worship as described in the Bible? As per The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2–17), is your “jealous” and “angry” Lord God not going to punish your children to the third and fourth generations for your iniquity, because you rejected the Lord God by associating Goddess Saraswati with Him? How will you explain this to your God on the Judgment Day? He is watching!! If you don’t believe in the (first two of) Ten Commandments and Christian exclusivity, then there is no issue marrying a Hindu.
If you are not an exclusivist Christian, why are you saying “I am not going to teach them (my kids) that “there are multiple forms of THE GOD…”. If so, then who are Krishna, Mahavir and Allah……fake gods?
Anu, for your knowledge, Hindus are not idol worshipers and are 100% monotheist believing in only one Supreme Reality; however liberty is provided to Hindus to express THE GOD in multiple forms. Actually, Catholics do exactly the same – the father, son and Holy Spirit, the wood-cross, baby Jesus, black Jesus, white Jesus, idols of Mary, St. Paul, St. John, the Pope…on and on. Likewise, Muslims will pray to the black-cube, Kaaba, will hang some Arabic writings on wall in their homes and consider it holy and will glorify their religious leaders, like Mohammed and Ayatollah. So, what is wrong in having liberty to express THE GOD (or godly things and people) however way one pleases?
Further, you said.. “I am not or ever will be Hindu, neither will my husband be Christian.” That’s the way it should be. You are lots more tolerant than some other Abrahamics. However, how about your kids? Are they going to be Hindus, Christians, both or atheists? Are they going to be: 1) multi Gods idol worshiper polytheist Hindus on Saturday and 2) monotheist and exclusivist Christians on Sunday? Are you going to be okay when your baptized daughter will sit down every day with her dad to do Saraswati and Ganesh puja in the altar in your own home? Let’s hope it will never bother you and your parents. Best would be to put Jesus and Mary’s idols into your (future) husband’s altar and whole family join for praying. In your own words, this is called “always ‘in addition to’, never ‘instead of’.” Pluralism is the only way for any interfaith couple seeking equality.
Anu, sit down with your fiancée and clarify below points now. Answer…true? or false?… to find out how much truly you love each other over certain religious dogmas:
Is “salvation” possible only through Jesus?
Are your fiancée and billions other Hindus not going to be “saved” on the Judgment Day (unless they baptized)?
Are Lord Buddha and Goddess Saraswati not incarnations of the same “Lord your God” described in the Bible?
Anu, do you have any reservations going to a Hindu temple, bow to Hindu Gods and take offering (prasad) from the Gods? Further, during Hindu wedding ceremony, the Hindu priest will invoke many Gods from heaven and earth, are you going to be okay to be part of such a wedding? Are you not scared of your “jealous” and “angry” Lord God?
Do you have to get married in a church? Did you check with your Christian priest if it will be okay to have a polytheist Hindu wedding and no (or in addition a) monotheist Christian wedding?
Does the child just born carry sin?
Do your children have to have baptism/christening to announce the child as a Christian and to wipe their sin? If your fiancée adamantly decline the baptism of children, are you going to end this love relationship now?
Do your sons have to have circumcision even though there is no scientific merit to it?
Name is everything. Are the children going to have Dharmic or Abrahamic names?
A membership in a church costs from 3-12% of your gross family income. Are you planning to be a member of a church, especially after children? Are you planning to spend the same amounts supporting Hindu religious institutions?
In case of a child’s death in your family; will he/she get a Christian burial or the Hindu cremation final rites?
Note that on most of above points, you cannot have both ways.
Most youths fail to recognize what you have stated…“many spouses become increasingly conservative after having children, regardless of their faith.” The dating time talks of “tolerance” and “open mindedness” are not measurable characteristics and could change with the wind. For this reason, it is important to dig into to learn of a “true color” of the fiancée by asking certain measurable critical questions. Any decision after above reality checks will be a good decision.
Anu, don’t get scared of these religious complexities created 1000s years before. Best is to let your love rule, not Hindu and Christian religious dogmas. Trust each other fully, don’t put a religious label on children, teach children to respect both Gods and scriptures and when they are 21 let them make own choices for the religion. Is not this fair? -Admin
What is your opinion for a Hindu-Christian interfaith couple:
Are Baptism, circumcision and a Bible (or Geeta) based name irreversible religious labels on an interfaith child?
Should the Hindu-Christian child be consulted (wait till 21 age) before cutting his body part?
How would you define Hindu-Christian married life with EQUALITY?
Also read: Hindu-Christian Marriage, Will Gandhi go to Hell since he was not Baptized?, Bible on Hindus?, Idol-Worshippers, I am a Christian mother, I converted without knowledge of my family, I am Christian getting married to a Hindu, Do all Christians go to Heaven?, Ignorent Molly trying to convert a Krishna believer to Christianity ..a video, Namastey London movie…intolerant Christians ..a video, All religions are not same, A Hindu America?, Why I am a Hindu?, A fundamentalist Christian, Why I came back to Hinduism?, Dharma is not the same as religion, Text book on How to convert Hindu Students to Christianity,