Dear Barb – Mixing Religions

Dear Barb: My wife and I have been married for two years. We do not share the same religion, which has not been a problem for us. We are thinking about starting a family and I can see where our religious differences may become an issue. I want our children to be baptized in my faith and my wife wants them to be baptized in hers. Our families are also divided on this issue. I’m not sure how or if we can resolve this issue. Do you have any suggestions?

Jeremy – Ottawa

Religious differences can pose a significant problem within a marital or family situation. For this reason, many couples of different religions that marry avoid discussing the religion their children will be until, like you and your wife, they are ready to begin a family. It is natural that each of you wants your children to share your religious traditions and beliefs. Some religions attempt to address this issue before marriage. For example, the Catholic faith asks that inter-faith couples, where one is Roman Catholic, agree to baptize their future children Catholic. However, this may still become an issue if, at a later date, one party chooses not to follow through with this agreement.

You both seem to have managed to overcome this fundamental difference for two years. However, you do not say whether you are attending the same church or if each or you attend your own church? Are you practicing any religious customs within your home? If so, how is this working for you?

This matter can become so painful that some couples simply choose not to baptize their children. However, this should not be a solution. The faith your children will be baptized should be decided between you and your wife. You may take into consideration the wishes of your extended families, but your decision should reflect the wishes of you and your wife. Have you given any consideration to choosing one religion for your entire family? Could you choose either one of your religions, or perhaps choose a new religion that you can all practice as a family?

No matter what religion you choose, your children should have an appreciation for the religion of both their parents. Teaching your children to respect the traditions of both religions will widen their appreciation of the diversity of faith practices of our world. As you undeniably know, so many of the problems in the world are a result of intolerance of other’s beliefs and practices. Many people grow up with a single perspective on religion. They believe that if one doesn’t follow their faith, then they are not good people.

Jeremy, you and your wife are fortunate in being able to have the opportunity to change this narrow thinking, if only within your own family unit. I hope you will be able to resolve this issue and pave the way for future generations.

Thanks for the excellent question.

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