Post # 1
How can we prevent fireworks between people of different beliefs? I think of myself as a Christian because I believe in God and Jesus etc. etc., but my perspective has changed a little over time. I’m not sure if you’d call me “lapsed”… I guess you could say I’ve lost faith in the Bible. My fiance and I get along really well, and he is agnostic. His immediate family is sort of anti-religious, my mother is a Lutheran, and the rest of my family is pretty religious, some of them, um, militantly so.
(By “militant,” I mean… One uncle asked me AT MY GRANDMOTHER’S FUNERAL where I was in my “walk,” and when I said that I didn’t think that was quantifiable, he said he thought it was. Then he looked around and commented that he was probably the closest one to God in the church.)
Anyway… With all of these differences, is this considered interfaith? I’m not sure if there might be some fireworks when some of my family mingle with some of his. My one uncle is known for trying to corner people alone and then trying to convert them. Does anyone have any advice on how to smooth over these people’s meeting? Or should my Fiance and I plan a super tiny wedding and only invite immediate family?
Also, my mother would like us to have premarital counseling, and I think it would be a good idea. But should we get a Lutheran pastor to do it (I was raised Lutheran), or…? Do you know if there are non-religious/interfaith premarital counselors who don’t cost an arm and a leg?
Post # 3
I think you’ll find that a psychologist or other mental health professional would be best if you want to get counseling – many places have a sliding scale based on income, and if you or your Fiance is enrolled in any sort of university, you should contact them for the best discount.
I was raised Lutheran too! I went to Lutheran schools for about 4 years of my education (middle school and first grade) and R and I met while attending the same Lutheran school. So his family is also very Lutheran, but we are now both atheists.
It’s really hard to juggle… we have a lot of variety in spiritual beliefs in our families, from really liberal and “God is love” attitude to more of a “God is love, but you’re sinning and not being married by a pastor so your marriage isn’t real in God’s eyes” – fun, right?
There’s no real way to prevent the fireworks besides standing firm in your beliefs, not provoking people, and not responding when they provoke you. We have kind of a smile and nod policy right now. Deep breaths, and remember why family is worth it. They mean well – most of the time. 😛
Post # 4
My friend’s grandparents are the most ‘militant’ Christians I’ve ever seen. They used to quiz babysitters on if they were ‘saved’ ..and I believe they even asked a customs officer at the Canadian-US border once about his eternal salvation!
I think a lot of families tend to have interesting dynamics; sometimes, they are about religion and sometimes they are about other issues. I agree with Lilyfaith that if you deeply believe in something, you have to stand your ground (and also let negative comments roll off of you). You didn’t talk in your post about interfaith ceremony issues, but there are a ton of Bible readings, prayers, readings, music etc. that would probably be acceptable to Christians, agnostics, and atheists alike. Sometimes family members just need to hear or see things they are familiar with but are less likely to focus in on the semantics. So, perhaps if you include a Bible passage of your choosing in the ceremony (maybe one that focuses on love instead of salvation), your family will hear the fact that it comes from the Bible and be happy, while you and less religious family members will focus more on the ‘love’ aspect.
Post # 5
My DH’s father is a minister. My Darling Husband is…not a church goer. I’m Catholic, as is my family. My DH’s family’s religion of choice refers to Catholocism as “The Great Whore.” My Darling Husband had some MAJOR concerns about his family acting weird at the wedding. We made a couple concessions in order to make them feel that God was included in the day without focusing on one religion or another. We were married by a Reverend, but not a Catholic priest or Pentecostal Minister. We also asked my Father-In-Law to bless the meal at the reception. (Ironically we all forgot about it, including his dad.) Maybe you could include hints of religion in the ceremony? I think your FI’s family is less likely to be offended hearing references to God as opposed to your family not hearing anything about God.
As far as controlling your family at the reception, you can’t really do anything about that…maybe there will be some other drama going on that will keep them occupied?
Post # 6
Those are really good suggestions, bamm. Did you have any verses in particular in mind? That’s okay if not… I think I know what you’re talking about. Thank you for your support, lilyfaith. The “smile and nod” response is definitely the way to go for us too… Neither my Fiance nor I are “debators”; we’d rather keep the peace with family members. I’m glad I’m not the only one whose marriage will “combine” families with totally different belief systems, MightySapphire. You can’t believe how relieved that makes me feel; it seems like all my friends’ families, fiances, and in-laws have the same religious backgrounds. It kind of makes me feel like it’s not fair! I want an “easy” wedding too! 😉 Anyway, I think you’re right about infusing religious elements into the ceremony too. I’ve also been considering how I might keep some of the polar opposites apart with an ingenious seating chart. Mwah ha ha… (Devious scheming hand motions…)
Post # 7
Here’s some Bible passages that might be helpful:
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Song of Solomon 8:6-7
Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.
Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot wash it away.
If one were to give
all the wealth of his house for love,
it would be utterly scorned.
I Corinthians 13:1-13
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Post # 8
Thank you! I love those. The “faith, hope, and love” one is a classic, and I don’t think it would make his parents uncomfortable. I wouldn’t have thought to look for one in the Song of Solomon. That one is so sweet. The Ecclesiastes verses are really nice too. I’m going to keep these for when we put in the verses…
I was also thinking it might be cool for us to have both Biblical verses like those above and maybe some quotes from literature. I’m not really sure what excerpts I would use. I really love The Little Prince, but I don’t know if it would be weird to have readings from it at a wedding. Maybe it would work, though… like the part where the fox tells the little prince, “It is only with the heart that one sees rightly. The essential is invisible to the eyes.” Anyway, we could use other books too…
Post # 9
We’re having multiple weddings because of multiple cultures and the fact that I’m a different kind of Christian than my family (I need to have a church wedding, but my family would feel uncomfortable with that service, so we are doing that privately). Therefore, the Canadian wedding in front of my family is going to have prayers, but also secular readings, so I totally think you could have both. I’m writing the Canadian ceremony, and so far we are also using a long version of that passage from Le Petit Prince! I love that passage because I think it reflects our own views on our relationship (that we are not soul mates but have made ourselves indispensible to each other). We’re also using part of The Decemberist’s Red Right Ankle for right after we do handfasting (you could also do handfasting – the origins are pre-Christian, but a great many churches do some form of handfasting today in their services – they just don’t call it that). Anyway, here’s the Decemberists passage we are using:
This is the story of your red right ankle/And how it came to meet your leg/And how the muscle, bone, and sinew tangled/And how the skin was softly shed/And how it whispered ‘Oh adhere to me/For we are bound by symmetry/And whatever differences our lives have been/We together make a limb’/This is the story of your red right ankle.