Dear Shelly and Ricky,
I have a problem. I am deeply in love with my boyfriend, but my parents told me that I will never be able to marry him because we come from different religions. He is Catholic and I am Jewish. My parents proceeded to tell me that if I marry him they would never talk to me again. How do I get my parents to realize that I need to live my own life and love who I want to love?? Help me, please!
— Trapped In Faith
We are talking marriage, so hopefully this isn’t a decision that needs to be made anytime soon. It is to be admired that you are in love with your man, but is the difference of religion really an issue?
The topic of inter- racial, faith, and ethnic dating is a popular one due to the current, more open minded perspective. Thirty years ago this question may have been obscene. Are your parents still stuck in the conservative mentality?
My past experience on this situation has been limited. I have dated some very nice boys of different backgrounds, and only one from a different faith. Your question does hit close to home. But what should really matter are not the differing beliefs of you and your boyfriend (as long as you are in agreement), but how you feel for one another.
Since I am unexperienced in the values and traditions of Judaism, I asked for some insight from a friend involved in Hillel. The woman’s faith in a relationship is more significant than perceived. Yes, it is important to you, Trapped for what you believe, but I have a feeling your mother is also concerned for the faith of the next generation. The woman’s faith is the one which dominates. Keeping this idea in mind, how much do you really value your faith?
By no means am I agreeing with your opposition. The issue is, your parents need to accept that you are going to make your own decisions, including who you choose to date. Keep in mind that 1) your current boyfriend may not be the one, and 2) conversion. I wish you the best of luck, Trapped; you are at a difficult cross road between tradition and fate. Your ultimate decision should be only made by you, so remember to be true to yourself.
Jesus, this is a hard question to answer. Haven’t you ever heard the old addage, “Never talk about politics or religion at the dinner table?” Well, I’m extending that to never talk about them with your parents either.
Religion is a touchy subject, especially if you are a priest, and should be handled delicately. I don’t want to tell you that you should stop seeing this guy because he is not Jewish, but if your parents are serious about disowning you, then perhaps you will have to.
The problem as I see it, is that you are getting too far ahead of yourself and you are worrying about things you don’t need to be dealing with right now. It doesn’t sound like your parents are opposed to you two dating, so why not keep on dating and cross the marriage bridge if and when it comes.
Most reasonable people, I believe, would like nothing else for their daughter than for her to find someone to love, regardless of religion. Religions all preach love, and if they are blinded by theirs, then you may need to ultimately make youself happy at the expense of your parents.
Godspeed, Trapped in Faith, and may the Lord Bless.