Bahai News - Blessed Arrangements Forum On Faith To Discuss Issues Of Intermarriage

Blessed Arrangements Forum On Faith To Discuss Issues Of Intermarriage

ENCINO - Is it possible for a Jew and a Bahai to get married in a Lutheran church? The answer to this and similar questions can be posed at the San Fernando Valley Interfaith Council's presentation of "What My Faith Tradition Tells Me About Inter-Marriage" on Sunday.

The discussion will be held on two consecutive Sundays and will explore various combinations of intermarriage, including marriages that cross religious, racial, ethnic or cultural lines.

"It's amazing the amount of money and planning that is put into the wedding ceremony by couples, but there's no planning for their future life together," said the Rev. Jeffrey Nelson, who will be one of the four speakers at the event. "They haven't even considered seeking premarital counseling."

Various fears, not just a time factor, may be the reason why couples decline premarital counseling. Nelson believes that a preconceived notion that he will "sit in judgment" regarding couples living together before marriage might turn people away. But fear of discussing sensitive issues or issues they don't see eye to eye on may be other factors.

Nelson may not have been asked specifically if a Jew and a Bahai could get married at his Van Nuys church, Christ the King Lutheran Church. But he fields plenty of calls from couples "calling cold" as they search for a pastor and a site for their ceremony.

"Usually they call me when they don't have a home church. But when they hear that I require a number of sessions for premarital work, they call someone else," Nelson said.

Meeting the challenges of interfaith marriage and learning how he can help couples plan for a successful future life are two of the topics that Nelson will bring up during his presentation.

"I've seen interracial and intercultural marriages work. When two come from different cultures, respecting and honoring each other's traditions can add a lot to a marriage. They have the potential to grow in their own faiths," Nelson said. "There are far more problems with marriages between different religions or marriage between a nonbeliever and a believer. A Christian marrying an atheist is probably the most difficult marriage because there's the intolerance factor."

Robert Merrill, a spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will be speaking about interracial marriage and being married in the Mormon faith.

"The Mormon church doesn't really have a policy for or against interracial marriage. We regard weddings as a very sacred ceremony. The main goal for members of the LDS church is to be married in a temple, like the one over the hill (on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Los Angeles) or in San Diego," Merrill said. "Our faith encourages couples to both be members of the LDS church before getting married."

Rabbi Jim Kaufman of Temple Beth Hillel in Valley Village is planning to focus his presentation on the definition of interfaith marriage and how the different branches of Judaism view intermarriage.

"There are different strategies nationally. Some discourage it but some wholeheartedly embrace the idea (of interfaith marriage). The goal of this evening is to broaden people's knowledge. Any opportunity I get to educate people I accept wholeheartedly," Kaufman said.

A representative from the Bahai faith will also take part in the discussion. After each presentation, there will be a discussion by the panelists followed by questions from the audience.

The "What My Faith Tells Me About Inter-Marriage" discussion will be held at 7 p.m. Sunday. The second part, with representatives from Roman Catholic, Jewish, Methodist and Islamic faiths, will be held at 7 p.m. Jan. 27. Both presentations will be held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 5338 White Oak Ave., Encino. Call (818) 718-6460.

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