Say a special someone has sparked your interest, and you’d love to start dating them. But there’s just one problem . . . they’re not Catholic.
Back in the day, interfaith dating was enough to make a mother clutch her pearls. But today’s world doesn’t consider interfaith dating to be as taboo as it used to be. That’s a good thing! Loving and respecting others strengthens our Church by facilitating ecumenical bonds.
In a perfect world, you would find blissful harmony with someone that shares your convictions, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes you find that you sync well with someone who thinks or feels differently about things. Don’t write off a great match just because their journey has brought them down a different path.
According to the Washington Post, the most popular religions in U.S. are Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism. Understanding these faiths (and others!) is a great way to form bonds and spark conversations. Plus, the more you know, the better prepared you will be to pursue a friendship or relationship that bridges religious lines.
It’s important to note that I am not an expert on any religion, not even my own. This article is a very brief overview of a few complex belief systems. For more information, I recommend doing your own research or – even better – reaching out to someone you know who practices a different set of beliefs. After all, when we take time to listen to the religious beliefs of those different than us, we grow to understand our own faith tradition more deeply, too.
1. Jewish Law mandates dating
The Jewish faith is like an older brother to Christianity. Jews believe in one true God, just like we do. Their scripture consists of the first five books of the bible, called the Torah. The biggest difference between Judaism and Christianity is that Jews are still waiting for their savior to come. At that point, they believe the dead will rise. Many Jews consider Jesus to be another great prophet like Moses.
Chabad.org makes it clear that dating is serious business for Jews. Marriage is the endgame. Compatibility is key, to ensure a happy and lifelong connection. The dating experience should allow for in-depth conversation so that you can get to know your possible future mate. Keep in mind that modesty dictates respectful separation, so meet in a public or semi-private place.
2. Dating is taboo in Muslim culture
Traditionally, the role of choosing a marriage partner fell on Muslim parents, but cultural norms are shifting and young people are beginning to choose for themselves. Recently, young adult Muslims have coined the term “halal dating” to describe their courting process. Halal dating reserves sexual relationships for the marriage bed and specifies that dating have the ultimate goal of marriage.
As with any cultural change, young Muslims are facing some push-back from older generations. Parents and grandparents may fear that dating fuels gossip and provokes overwhelming sexual temptation. This growing rift between generations has caused conflict, but young Muslims aren’t afraid of a challenge. They have found a way to ease their parents’ nerves by referring to dating with different words. “Getting to know”, “talking”, “togetherness” and “understanding”, are all halal dating related buzzwords, according to NPR.
3. Mormons believe marriage is essential for obtaining rewards in heaven
According to the Mormon Newsroom, Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said that the most fundamental belief of Mormonism is that Jesus died, was buried, rose again, ascended into heaven. All other beliefs build upon this.
Most mormon dating rituals mirror ours: Mormon youth often start dating around 16 and generally pursue chaste relationships. The goal of dating is marriage, although dating for fun is common before the age of 19. At that point, young men leave for a two year missionary commitment. Mormonism discourages dating during this season of their lives. After their missionary years, the men resume dating, and take it seriously. Mormons consider postponing marriage unnecessarily to be wrong.
4. Buddhist dating rules are up for interpretation
The five precepts of Buddhism are:
- No taking the life of sentient beings
- Don’t take what is not offered
- No engaging in sexual misconduct
- Don’t use mindless speech like gossip or lying
- No using drugs or intoxicants
These precepts are up for interpretation. Some people live ascetically, like the familiar orange-clad Buddhist monks. Seeing as most of us aren’t called to be monks or nuns, it’s up each individual Buddhist to discover what these tenants mean to them. For example, a premarital sexual relationship may be acceptable for buddhists as long as it recognizes and respects the dignity of the other person.
5. Hindus believe sex is great – at the right time and place
Hinduism has its own basic statues, but it’s not an organized religion. It doesn’t have clearly defined tenants like our ten commandments. Various groups and interpret these statues differently. Local customs and culture also influence interpretation and decisions.
At its most basic, Hinduism recognizes that there is one true God who manifests in different gods/goddesses. The pursuit of truth is at the core of Hindu life, as is Dharma. Put simply, the religion encourages people to do the right thing.
Kama, or sexual pleasure, is important for attaining dharma. But those practicing Hinduism believe that Kama is to be reserved for marriage. Hinduism emphasizes self-restraint in sexual matters. Young people are encouraged to postpone sex until they are ready to settle down. Early life is considered prime time for learning and pursuing truth. Middle life is generally accepted as the time to marry and start a sexual relationship, with family life being the ultimate goal.