Interfaith marriage in Christianity

An interfaith marriage is typically defined as a marriage between a Christian and a non-Christian. Within the sects of Christianity, this may be extended to include inter-denominational marriage.


Some Christian churches forbid interfaith marriage, basing this ban on New Testament verse 2 Corinthians 6:14[1][2] and the Old Testament verse Deuteronomy 7:3 (see also Ezra 9–10.).

The Roman Catholic Church has defined criteria on interfaith marriage recognition and the Eastern Orthodox Church also has rules which are similar in most respects.

Inter-denominational marriages

The Roman Catholic Church requires a dispensation for mixed marriages. The ordinary of the Catholic party has the authority to grant them. The baptized non-Catholic partner does not have to convert. Previously, the baptized non-Catholic partner had to agree to raise the children Catholic, but under current rules only the Catholic spouse must promise to do all that is in his or her power to do so. The non-Catholic partner must be made 'truly aware' of the meaning of the Catholic party's promise. Both parties must be instructed about the 'purposes and essential properties' of marriage, none of which can be excluded by either of the parties (thus neither party, including the non-Catholic, may exclude the permanence, exclusivity or openness to having children in the marriage, which is a standard condition of the validity of all marriages in Catholicism). It is forbidden to have a second religious ceremony in a different religion or one ceremony performed together by ministers of different religions. However, it is possible to waive the requirement of form (by granting a dispensation), so that for example one ceremony performed by the minister of another religion or a civil magistrate will be sufficient. Marriages with members of Eastern rites are valid but illicit without proper observance of the form or dispensation from it, as long as a sacred minister is present and other canonical requirements are observed. [3] Yet, some Christian non-Catholics have a Catholic father or mother.

Depending on the jurisdiction, Catholic authorities there allow mixed marriages, provided that the necessary documents are obtained, along with the granting of dispensation by both partners' respective churches and the consent of their families. Except in denominations which require conversion of either partner who is not a member, the groom and bride are wed in two rites, despite the prohibition on having a second ceremony. The first one is the Catholic rite, while the second is the non-Catholic (usually Protestant Christian) rite.[4] Requirements vary in countries where interfaith marriage is legally recognized.

Inter-religious marriages

In 2009, Portuguese Cardinal Jose Policarpo discouraged Portuguese girls from marrying Muslims, due to the fact that it is sometimes difficult to raise children in the faith after a marriage.[5][6]

Marriages between a Catholic and an unbaptized person are not sacramental and fall under the impediment of disparity of worship (Code of Canon Law, Cn.1086 § 1).[7] They are invalid without a dispensation, for which authority lies with the ordinary of the place of marriage (Cn. 1086 § 2).[8] In addition, the Catholic Church recognizes the Pauline privilege, wherein a Catholic may marry an unbaptized previously married person who consents to convert, but only if the unbaptized person's spouse refuses to become a Catholic also (similar to Muslim views on marrying previously-married non-Muslims).

See also


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