Interracial marriage and parents?


Hello everyone! I want to introduce myself: My name is Jennifer and I am 15 years old in high school. I’ve been thinking about my future and what God wants me do to with my life. I have a desire to get married one day. I pray for my future husband on a daily basis, that he’ll be a holy man and that’s he’ll convert himself fully to God. I pray that he won’t be influenced by the media and how it portrays women and he’ll defend the faith. Now, in the culture that I come from, people tend to marry within their own race and the marriages are arranged. Personally, I don’t want a marriage like that. I want God to guide me towards the man that he specifically chose for me without the influence of my parents. If this man is of a different race than me and I fall in love and marry him, is it considered disobeying my parents? All races are equal in God’s eyes. I know my parents will be upset if I marry someone outside of my race, even if he’s Catholic, has a good job, etc. My dad will probably accept it eventually, but I’m not so sure about my mom. Based on past actions, I can already infer that she probably won’t even come to my wedding if it is the case. I know I’m young and that I won’t get married until I’m somewhere in my 20s, but I can’t help but wonder. What is your input in the situation?


Are you assuming all of this about your parents, or have they told you that race is the number one concern for them when it comes to who you chose to marry? You say that they are Catholic. If they are practicing Catholics the first thing they should be asking is if he is a practicing Catholic or not. It wouldn’t be unreasonable for them to want you to marry a good Catholic.


What is it about this kind of marriage that you don’t like? Is it the “race” part or the “arranged” part? I can see a girl not wanting the “arranged” part, especially in the US or other western countries. As far as race, are you referring to culture rather than race? It’s normal and usual for parents to want their children to marry others of the same culture, and the same race also. It sounds like your parents are very traditional, but if you are an adult, and live in a western country, there’s not much they can do. Although I’ve heard stories about ‘honor killings’, which I hope are very rare. Perhaps you should pray for your parents to soften their attitudes.

I suppose it would be considered disobeying your parents if they are adamant about who you marry, but you have to consider your own welfare. I don’t think you have to obey anyone if you know they are wrong. The commandment says to honor your parents, not simply obey every one of their whims. You can still honor them even if you marry someone not of their choosing.


If you are living in Europe, the US or Canada, you are not obligated to abide by the arranged marriage custom.
As for your parents feelings, don’t worry too much about it. Like you said, your father will probably come around to you fairly soon. As for your mother, she will get over it once she has grandchildren!
At least that is what happened to my parents and to me!


Well, for one you mention that you are only 15, so your worries are little premature. None the less, if you think that race would be an issue in your family you might start discussing this with them. If there is bigotry or prejudice in your family you need to let them know that you have a problem with that, especially as a Catholic.

If you meed someone who is of another race and you fall in love with them, and they love you, you will need to be able to make that choice. All I can really say, is don’t close the door on someone due to race. It is a terrible mistake and unwarranted.

I have a couple of cousins who “broke the race rule” in their families. Everyone came around eventually, and grew up in the process. For those that don’t, it is their loss not yours. I can only say, (being a bit older myself) that I wish there had been greater openness to the idea of in-racial relationships when I was your age. It could have very well opened the door to marriage for me, but such a relationship just never crossed my mind. If I had it to do over, that would certainly change.

Remember the scripture: “Love never fails.”


It is important to honor your parents and to do your best to maintain a good relationship with them, but the reality is that once you are 18, assuming you are living in the West, you will be an emancipated adult and the choice will be yours. The Catholic Church does not require adults to “obey” their parents. We must continue to honor them as best we can - to love and respect them - but we are not required to obey them once we cease to be children under their care. The Catholic Church places great importance on entering into a marriage without constraint or duress. You must freely choose your spouse and freely consent to validly marry in the Catholic Church.


I do live in the US; however my parents immigrated from the United Arab Emirates. They are firm in me marrying a Catholic who is of the same race as me. There’s really no “dating” in my culture. My mom’s side of the family is very traditional (most of the family lives in the Middle East) and can get racist/prejudiced on other races whereas my dad’s side is more liberal. I really don’t like the fact that my parents aren’t open about who I marry. They’re reasoning for all this is because of the divorce rates in America. They say that if I marry a man outside of my race, he’s not willing to sacrifice in marriage leave me after a couple years and find a new person, even if this person is a strong Catholic, and that a man of my race will be stay with me forever. I find this reasoning ludicrous.


This reason is ludicrous as you state. There is no guarantee that any marriage will work. However, if there is no love there is not marriage. Remember, marriage is a sacrament that is conferred from each spouse on to the other. If you don’t love the person you marry it would be an invalid marriage. Stick to your guns.


I would strongly suggest that you do not butt heads with, or oppose your parents in any way concerning this marriage business until you are of legal age, then you can do whatever you want. You don’t want your parents to pull up stakes and go back to the Emirates with you in tow, do you? Let them think they are getting their way, without actually lying, of course. When you are 18, you can move out and they won’t be able to force an arranged marriage on you, nor kidnap you and take you back to the home country.


I don’t plan to doing anything at this age. I’m just thinking of my future and what I’ll do if the situation comes.


God will help you at that moment. It is not possible to guess the future, you really don’t know what will happen.

As for race/culture argument that your parents put forward, I don’t think this is crazy at all. Culture matters. Differences can make things really difficult and marriage can be challenging enough even when people come from the same culture. Someone from your culture will understand your family dynamic, how the relationships work, what the obligations are, etc. Also, Catholics in some cultures are more open to the idea of separating than in other cultures. Just have a look at the family life forum and see how often posters suggest separation, or cutting ties with family members. In some cultures this is completely acceptable, while in others it is not. You could end up with a practicing Catholic whose idea of what is intolerable in marriage and is divorce-worthy is very different to yours :shrug:

Yes, the most important thing is that your spouse is a practicing Catholic, but don’t dismiss your parents’ views as old-fashioned or bigoted. Perhaps they see your new homeland with a more critical eye and don’t particularly like what they see in the younger generation.

(I know I sound like a preachy mom, but that is because I am one and worry about my children :wink:


When you talk about culture, are you talking about family traditions and whatnot. Living in America, I have been raised with Americans and I believe that I am more American than Emirati, culture wise. Of course, I want my future husband to be a practicing Catholic, and to me, he needs to meet certain standards before I can actually consider him as a potential spouse. Yet, I am only 15 and I really don’t believe that I have met him yet. I mean I could’ve and I don’t know it, but it’s all up to God’s will.


Actually, that’s not really true. Arranged marriages can, in fact, be valid, even if the spouses do not love each other from the getgo. They must choose the marriage free of coercion and intend a lifelong union that will accept children.


I think you are borrowing trouble. You could very easily fall in love with someone who is of the same race and it won’t be an issue. Or, your parents could soften their views within the next decade before you are likely to be ready to marry.


Hypothetically speaking, what if the man that I was meant to be with is of a different race? I don’t really know any guy that is of the same race as me…and I’ve never been attracted to one either. I’ve always like guys of other races. I really don’t want an arranged marriage because I know I won’t be happy if I did.


JCats1, Allegra had it right. I think you cross that bridge when you come to it. We are free to choose our own marriage partner. And likewise, the catechism reminds us that “Parents should be careful not to exert pressure on their children either in the choice of a profession or in that of a spouse.” So when the time comes, you would not be dishonoring your parents by marrying whom you wish, even if it is not the person they would have chosen for you.


When you say “arranged marriage” do you mean the kind where they explicitly tell you who you are marrying or will it be the kind where they get a pool of candidates for you to evaluate? If the latter I think it’d be good if you at least looked at the candidates before declining them all.


It can work both ways in my culture, depending upon the connections and the amount of people that my parents associate with. Either way, if this person is from the country my parents were from, I’d be required to go back and live with this person for quite a while before moving back to the U.S.


It happened a number of years ago. The young lady left home after high school to go to college. 4350 miles away from her parents who would arrange a marriage for her. She was only 150 miles from her older brother at another college. They visited one another and met mutual friends. One weekend she and her friends went to the football game at her brother’s school. After the game there was a dance and so forth. She met her brother’s friend and they hit it off.
Fast forward to college graduation. She wants the parents to meet the young man who has proposed to her. Parents come for graduation and the meeting is arranged. Young lady is nervous. Parents will reject her choice and be extremely angry. Mom and Dad meet young swain. Much bowing and smiling. Mother says to daughter, “We are so glad that you like the boy we picked for you. We hope you will continue to be very happy.”
The young lady was a classmate of my sister.
Who says God can’t arrange things for your happiness? Don’t you trust Him? Don’t you trust your parents? Shame on you!



No, Shame on you. This girl has met someone she loves. It is not up to parents to arrange who their children will marry. The case you describe is rare, very rare. Arranged marriages are not the norm now, and are way out dated. It has nothing to do with trusting God either.

She needs to marry the person she loves, not the person everyone else wants her to love.

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