As a civil celebrant, I note that mixed marriage has become increasingly common nowadays. It may be between couples whose beliefs encompass different strands of the same religion (eg Anglican and Roman Catholic) or believers of totally different faiths (I was recently honoured to be asked to perform a ceremony for a Jewess marrying a Muslim).
Source: Philippa Gedge photography
And then there are even less conventional combinations (in the picture below, I conducted a pagan handfasting, incorporating a number of Jewish elements).
On one occasion, I had been booked to conduct a ceremony for a practising (Reform) Jew and a practising Anglican. I was to be working together with a Reverend to create the appropriate service for the pair. Unfortunately, one set of grandparents were strict Jews and threatened to boycott the ceremony, unless an ordained rabbi (which I am not) led that part of the wedding.
It was certainly a dilemma for the couple.
Who was in the right? Should the couple not be allowed to do what they want and believe in? Especially on their big day. Or should they respect and please family?
Of course, there is no doubt what my feelings about the matter are. However, there are two sides to any argument.
On the one hand …
As both of them actively follow their own religion, they do need to seriously consider how they will bring up any eventual children up. Circumcision may be just one of the decisions they will have to agree on. What about religion school, if any?
Once they have dealt with such problems, there are still those grandparents to contend with. The pair won’t choose to offend them, naturally. They should show respect. But whose wishes should actually prevail?
… on the other
Surely this has got to be the couple’s (joint) decision? They are adults and It is their lives, after all. They certainly won’t want to be insincere and uncomfortable on arguably the biggest day of their lives.
If reasoning with objectors doesn’t work, it might be possible to compromise (though difficult to do in this circumstance) or make it up with them in some way. Maybe invite them to participate or assure them that you will spend festivals like Passover together with them, and that you want them to play a full part in the life of any offspring.
It may even be that the ceremony is so sincere and beautiful that the objectors come round of their own accord.
Wouldn’t that be something?
Please contact me for a (non-obligation) chat, if you are contemplating a mixed marriage (or if anyone you know is) .