This week staff writer Frank Friedlander discusses the subject of religion in a relationship and with family.
When two people find true love, or something close to it, religion is not something that should get in the way. Sometimes, it will create the obstacle of which type of wedding to hold, but beyond that, it should be smooth sailing. However, when the children come along, things can get somewhat complicated. Even if the parents are not particularly concerned, the family tends to but in. None of their business as it may be, the situation can be the cause for heated discussions, which everyone would just as soon resolve as soon as possible.
Our daughter, and the one who will be joining us this coming April will be a “Cashew.” She will have a Catholic mother, and a Jewish father. By Jewish tradition, if either parents or the mother only are Jewish, then the child is Jewish; however, if the father only is Jewish, they’re considered half Jewish. Problem solved, right? It is, assuming that the family of the mother is OK with that.
Luckily for me, it’s not that big a deal. On my side, the Jewish side, my grandmother’s the only one who seems concerned in any way. These days, she’s pretty much given up, and as long as they’re aware of their Jewish heritage, she’s satisfied. After all, as I tell her, they’ll likely go to Synagogue about as much as I did growing up, pretty much never.
You see, I come from one of those families who are Jewish because they like the title. Nobody is particularly religious. My grandmother’s generation may be to a degree, but not beyond that. When somebody dies, we’ll don a yarmulke and go to Temple. My father, for example has had a history of touring various churches and temples, everything from Unitarian to Hindu. He’s in it more for the learning experience than anything. As a child, we even had a Christmas tree; my mother would try to dress it in all blue and white, and refer to it as a “Chanukah Bush.” However, as years went on, Santas and Reindeer ultimately invaded it, and it became an it is what it is type of tree.
My wife, on the other hand faithfully went to church every Sunday as a child. We currently do not, but when the children are old enough, she is adamant about carrying on that tradition. I am personally opposed to it. To be honest, it has nothing to do with religion. It’s just boring. It’s not like anyone’s listening anyway, just wasting a Sunday because somewhere down the line, people were convinced that they had to do it. I’ll assume that those who originated that decision were the proprietors of the churches. Kind of like if the owners of Chili’s tried to guilt people into going to Chili’s once a week because the Divine Powers demanded it. I’d hope that eventually, people would see through it.
Beyond that, there are ways to keep everyone happy. Hopefully, it isn’t one that requires an hour or more of worship twice a week instead of the mandated once, but if that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes. If it is something that the couples themselves feel strongly about, then they should really work it out. However, if they are doing it to appease outside parties, eventually, one or both partners might just need to lay it out that only we and we alone can make that decision.
The last thing to think about is this: If the primary goal of faithfully following one’s religion is to enter the kingdom of heaven, I’d assume that every family would like to ultimately unite there. With this in mind, judging by the rules of each religion, the couple might want to consider joining a single religion, just to be on the safe side. However, if you’re like me, there’s a different point of view. Assuming that you you’re your life by the basic guidelines of essentially any religion, you are likely to end up in heaven, assuming there is such a place. This being said, I suppose that where you spend that one boring hour per week is not as important as some have spent their lives thinking.