The Rise of Interfaith Marriage


So Chelsea Clinton, ostensibly a Methodist, wed Mark Mezvinsky, described as a Conservative Jew, over the weekend.  I wish ’em all the best; goodness knows Chelsea’s been through a lot in her short life.

The wedding gave rise to this article in USA Today on the increase of interfaith marriages in America.  The article describes religiously-mixed marriages as “a category that’s growing rapidly among U.S. couples”.  OK.

But here’s the truth: religiously-mixed marriages are only on the rise among people who don’t take their faith particularly seriously—as the article itself illustrates to the discerning reader.  Disclaimer: I’m not talking about a committed evangelical from one tradition marrying a committed evangelical from another.  I conducted such marriages in PA, and while there has to be some give-and-take and negotiating in such arrangements, the differences between evangelical faith traditions that agree on the basics is one of secondary concerns, and while navigating those differences might cause some discomforts, it can be done.

But a Jew marrying a Methodist?  Can’t work, unless neither takes his/her faith particularly seriously (or if his/her version of faith has so compromised its basic theological tenets as to be effectively meaningless); sadly, it’s hard not to suspect that this is the case with Chelsea and her beloved.  Christian faith—not the anemic, watered-down variety that many profess today—teaches that Jesus Christ is the exclusive way to Heaven, that all of life must revolve around one’s relationship to God in Christ, that it is lived under His Lordship.  I take the position, of course, mentioned with regard to the Baptist pastor in the article: I never marry an unbeliever to a professing believer in Christ.  I take the position—though I respect those who differ with me on this—that I do not marry two unbelievers to each other either; though I find nothing legally or ethically wrong with such an arrangement, I refrain.

But I digress.  This trend, growing as it is, constitutes further proof of the marginalization of the importance of faith in our society.  And provides for committed believers yet another opportunity to shine like lights in the darkness.


  1. Stan McCullars on August 3, 2010 at 5:40 am

    When you’re as ugly as Chelsea you take what you can get.

    Still, marrying outside the faith is prohibited by scripture.

  2. Jack Brooks on August 4, 2010 at 9:25 am

    She probably doesn’t even have any real Christian faith, coming out of a liberal Methodist background, so it’s most likely two non-believers marrying.

    Actually, if they have any noble-mindedness, she might have a much better marriage than her parents.

    • Byron on August 4, 2010 at 2:49 pm

      You’re probably right about all that!

  3. Graham on August 5, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    My grandparents had what some would consider an interfaith marriage. My grandfather was a Roman Catholic and my grandmother an Anglican. In those days the Catholic church wouldn’t recognise such marriages unless the non-Catholic converted and the children brought up Catholic (I think it was the “ne temere” decree or something sounding like that)- with my gran digging her heels in on both aspects.

    As far as the Catholic church was concerned my grandparents were “living in sin” together and their children illegitimate.

  4. Laurie on August 5, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    LOL! Stan – that was funny – and true!

  5. Derlin on August 5, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    I had a male Muslim coworker who was married to a Baptist woman. I can only assume that their religious discrepancies played a role in why they are no longer together.

    Byron, would you have married two non-believers in any circumstances, or did you reserve your role for committed Christians in your local church (or outside)?

    • Byron on August 6, 2010 at 4:32 am

      My position is that I do not marry two unbelievers, but that I’d marry two believers regardless of church affiliation.

      Incidentally, though it’s off the subject, if/when “gay marriage” becomes the law of the land, I will not sign a certificate of marriage for anybody. I will not be a party to the state’s foolishness.

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