Paul J. Mills, Tiffany Barsotti, Meredith A. Pung, Kathleen L. Wilson, Laura Redwine, and Deepak Chopra Gratitude, along with love, compassion, empathy, joy, forgiveness, and self-knowledge, is a vital attribute of our wellbeing. While there are many definitions of gratitude, at its foundation, gratitude is a healing, life-affirming, and uplifting human experience that shifts us […]
Washington Post On Faith Question:
Chelsea Clinton, raised Methodist, and Marc Mezvinsky, Jewish, will wed this weekend.
Statistics show that 37 percent of Americans have a spouse of a different faith.
Statistics also show that couples in interfaith marriages are “three times more likely to be divorced or separated than those who were in same-religion marriages.”
Is interfaith marriage good for American society? Is it good for religion? What is lost -and gained -when religious people intermarry?
The more productive topic is how to avoid such divorces. To do that, a young couple must find common ground in spiritual matters. This is happening already to some extent. The ties of dogma and orthodoxy have been weakening for decades. Yet there is something deep that needs to be solved: the paradox of faith. I would venture that faith itself can put strains on a marriage (I’m not working from pure instinct here: statistics show that the Bible Belt, where church attendance is highest, also enjoys the country’s highest divorce rate whereas the Northeast, which is much less religious — and also more educated, an important factor — enjoys the lowest). Faith becomes negative when it binds the mind into set, inflexible beliefs.
Yet one person’s sacred ground is another person’s high horse. Couples must mutually decide to abandon the secret sureness of being right. This can’t be a tug of war. Nor can it be the sort of passive giving in that years later turns into active resentment. Faith is about conscience, so every step needs to be taken with a clear conscience. As love matures in a marriage, a shared spirituality becomes easier, because in your spouse you see aspects of the divine: love, trust, hope, and comfort. These serve as the basis for a practical kind of faith; God has acquired a human face. I suspect that when couples split on religious grounds — or at least cite religion in a long list of complaints — the real problem is that love didn’t mature. The issues brought into the union have continued to fester, generally out of sight.
If your faith becomes part of judging against someone else, it can’t help but be divisive. Faith becomes a uniting force instead when it renounces judgment, opens the way for shared belief, and hopefully expands into a true spiritual partnership. Those same elements are needed on any search for higher reality, whether you undertake it alone or with other people. The joy of reaching the goal together is a great enticement, but it will remain an illusion until the paradox of faith has been solved.
Published in the Washington Post On Faith
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