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The way forward for most couples is to explore the differences and then to learn to accept and perhaps even to celebrate them.Old models of interfaith dialogue—let's call them Interfaith 1.0—were really monologues, welcoming only to liberals and progressives who affirmed the unity of all religions.Today, Shanny and Kimberly Luft are married with two children. Initially, she conceded by agreeing to raise their kids Jewish.She still identifies as a Protestant, but they are raising their kids Jewish. More recently, he conceded by agreeing to trim a Christmas tree and organize an Easter egg hunt.Because my life is lived Jewishly, and that’s all that matters to me.
But try as they might, they couldn't get to yes. While researching this article, I met a Catholic woman whose relationship with a Muslim ended after five years and an evangelical Protestant man whose relationship with a Sikh ended after seven years, both because of religious differences. Katya Ramdya, a Hindu writer living in London, says she and her Muslim husband get along because both of them are pretty secular.
"You have to allow yourself to be on this uncomfortable ground," Shanny explains, adding that "to her credit, Kimberly was able to do that before me." In my new book, God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World—and Why Their Differences Matter, I make the case that interreligious harmony depends not on pretending the great religions are the same but on recognizing their differences and then coming to respect and perhaps even to revel in them. When it comes to our most intimate relationships, the pretend pluralism of the "all religions are one" variety just doesn't cut it.
Muslims know that Islam is different from Hinduism just as surely as Jews know that Judaism is different from Islam.
At the end of the day, for me it’s not an “interfaith relationship.” It’s just a relationship.
And it’s not some wildly different experience dating someone not Jewish, because where it counts, he is: His values are made of compassion, justice, and kindness. So while the rabbinate may think our relationship is disgusting, invalid, or horrifying, I don’t care.
It’s a weird metaphor, I know, but it’s a good image for how I feel sometimes.