Pleased to share about a marriage between a Baptist groom and a Methodist wife
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RELIGION: Few families now abandon their kin for once-taboo marriages
- By Creede Hinshaw
Recently, a friend told me about a decision he made that prompted his grandmother to stop speaking to him. Although this happened more than 40 years ago, it still seemed as fresh to him as if it were yesterday.
How had he transgressed, you ask? What could he possibly have done that would have made a grandmother withhold her love? Had he stolen or lied, smoked marijuana or been apprehended in some juvenile mischief?
What he had done – in the eyes of his grandmother – was far more severe: He had fallen in love with and married a Methodist and then joined her church to worship with his wife and her parents. This fatal act prompted his grandmother to turn an icy shoulder on her grandchild.
My friend had been – up until his marriage – a good Baptist, raised in a strong Baptist church where his parents and grandparents were faithful members. But he had fallen away, presumably upsetting his grandmother for abandoning the family church and joining a congregation that baptized babies and approached the Bible differently.
My friend endured the snub for six weeks before finally going to his grandmother and forcing her to talk about her anguish. When he asked her if she thought it mattered to God whether people worshiped as Baptist or Methodist, she grudgingly gave him her blessing.
Keep in mind this happened more than 40 years ago. His story reminded me of an even more short-sighted decision made by my next-door neighbors in rural Indiana. These faithful Catholics were so hurt when their only daughter fell in love with and married a Protestant that they boycotted their daughter’s wedding, the father of the bride refusing to walk his baby girl down the aisle.
It seems to me that such strong feelings are no longer so extant. Yes, it’s still a stretch for some families to heartily approve of a Protestant-Catholic marriage and interfaith marriages still raise some questions. And I know some parents who are concerned when their child marries a person who either has very little or no faith, too much faith (yes, some parents worry about that) or comes from a church too conservative or too liberal.
But for the most part, families appear to be more generous when it comes to their children marrying outside their own religious background, whatever that might be. There seems to be far less exclusivity than once defined many religious traditions. Most parents are just happy that their child has married somebody who has been raised in any faith background.
For the most part this relaxed attitude is a good thing. We ought to be able to balance a healthy embrace of our own faith background with a gracious acknowledgment that other religious traditions can also make the world – and a marriage – a better place in which to live and love. There may be reasons for cutting off all communication with a newly married family member, but rarely should those reasons involve the union of a Baptist and a Methodist.
Contact columnist Creede Hinshaw at firstname.lastname@example.org.