Relationship or Marrying a Hindu

I have been dating a very beautiful and lovely girl who happens to be Hindu. I am a devout Catholic and have been studying my faith for several years now and feel I am well versed in it. I accept all the teachings of the Church. I am wondering about my relationship with this girl, which has been going on for over 2.5 years. We are in love and see each other nearly every day, and talk on the phone for many hours.

She is a great person and she loves many things about me, including my religiousness and spirituality. She is also a spiritual person, however, she is Hindu, and practices Hindu spirituality. She enjoys discussions about religion, and has a great deal of respect for Jesus, and my beliefs. She knows a lot of the Bible, and attended Catholic school. I would say she knows more about Catholicism than a lot of Catholics.

I know that I am allowed to marry a Hindu, in fact, religion is ultimately not a factor when marrying in a Catholic Church, as long as certain issues are addressed. My question is whether I should pursue this relationship, as a strict Catholic. Although I haven’t done much towards this, I would like for her to convert so that things would be easier. This is difficult, for several reasons. One reason is that her family is from India and are serious Hindus and she does not want to go against them by converting (her mother does not want her to). Also, as a Hindu, she is more difficult to dialog with than another Christian or monotheist. Hindus, as Peter Kreeft has stated, do not necessarily accept the law of non-contradiction, meaning they do not see things in a black-and-white way, the way Christians do. They see any life as a pathway, no matter how much evil a person is committing, that person is simply on their own path. Also, to her she emphasizes the similarities of religions, rather than the differences, and therefore does not really see the need to convert.

Anyway, I know I have gone on a long time, but basically, my question is what you think of this relationship. Should I continue it, knowing that I love her a lot and we are very good together? Also, with the seemingly low chance of her converting. Thanks everyone for your help.

How can you be united heart and soul to this woman when she can not share in the one thing most important to your heart and soul? What will you do regarding your children? Will she let them be raised thoroughly Catholic? How will you explain her rejection of the faith to them? Do you want your children to have that kind of dissonance?

I think it’s a really bad idea. Not impossible to succeed with, but definitely not prudent.

[quote=phil8888]One reason is that her family is from India and are serious Hindus and she does not want to go against them by converting (her mother does not want her to).
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I believe that it is very very advisable to see how far the parents will go to stop this marriage. It may not be a big deal for them. Then again…

You can’t use a marriage to covert someone anyway. Nor can you go in hoping they will change. You have to take people as they are. Anyway, a conversion that is true is for truth, regardless of the reaction of parents. Jesus said we cannot put parents ahead of following Him. Sometimes, loving someone means not being in a romantic relationship with them.

If you really love her…would you ask her to NOT raise her children in her own faith? Would you like to be asked or required to NOT raise your children in your faith?

If your faiths matter to you…how will/can you handle that situation?

I could not teach my children something I did not believe, nor sit by while another did so and not speak up.

cheddar

You have a mistaken idea regarding what the Church teaches about mixed marriage. It absolutely is problematic. The Church does not encourage mixed marriage nor approve of mixed marriage-- it TOLERATES mixed marriage. I suggest you read the encyclical “On Mixed Marriage”.

There are serious problems any time a Catholic marries a non-Catholic. To marry a non-Christian is even more perilous.

I suggest you find a Catholic who practices their faith to the same degree as you. Found your marriage on the Rock of Christ. Form a Catholic home and Catholic family.

Even if her parents go along with the wedding, it seems that there is a probability for future dissonance. Children Baptized Catholic, but growing up knowing Mom is not on board. Mom not able to teach her children that their Faith is important because it really doesn’t matter. How about the question of regulating births? Is she going to see any point in NFP? Compatible in the every day things that really do not matter, but incompatible at the deepest level. On a lighter level, does she eat beef or are cows sacred? Future “burgers” only on the sly! It is going to be heart rending to split at this point, but that is what I would advise my own son to do.

I must admit I am somewhat dismayed at the responses I have received. I hope I can explain what I mean in a coherent way that people can understand. And also, I do acknowledge people’s help in this matter and thank people for their input. But let me explain why I am dismayed.

I definitely consider myself a strong Catholic, I love listening to Catholic Answers Live and agree with everything they speak about. I go to Mass and love the sacraments. I like reading about saints, and Jesus and Mary, and I even host a monthly meeting at our parish to discuss Catholic issues with 18 to 30 year olds (I am 25). I feel I am part of the Catholic community. However, when I asked my question to this forum, people seemed very judgmental and condemning. They did not try to understand my position or even consider that I may be going through a hard time right now. No, you just seemed to say whoa, this is a bad idea, and you shouldn’t do it no matter what!! Can you just imagine how bad it would be!

This morning when I got up, I sort of reflected on what had happened, and it reminded me of the prodigal son. Imagine if when the son was returning, the father started immediately condemning his son and saying, you were so bad, how could you have done all these bad things, how dare you! The son would not have felt like he was part of the community. He would have felt rejected, and may have left again. I’m not saying I would leave the Church, because I would not, but I am saying I realized during my reflection that it’s like what St. Francis said, to understand before being understood. I did not sense any love from the messages I received, it just seemed like condemnation to me.

The Catholic Church makes clear many things that are not allowed under any circumstances. For example, we can NEVER use contraception, never have an abortion, never steal, etc. so it’s not as though if the Church wanted us to never do something, it wouldn’t say that. And so it is with Mixed Marriages. Nowhere in the Catechism does it say, people are forbidden to marry someone who is not Catholic or Christian. It says there are difficulties, and I am aware of those, and so this decision is not an easy one obviously.

I think people need to put themselves in another’s shoes before they make judgmental comments, or even if they use information from the Church or the Catechism in defense of their points. Your points may be correct, however it’s like the saying, people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. This experience has actually helped me significantly in my Catholic journey, because it helped me to realize that many times I may do the same thing. People do not speak to others to simply be condemned by everyone. They first need to feel like they are part of a community. I realized that no matter how heterodox a person’s opinion is on an issue, first and foremost, that person is a creation of God, and we need to love everyone. I realized that no matter how right you are, no one will listen to you unless they first feel that you actually care. Thank you for allowing me to realize these things, even if it happened unintentionally.

Phil, Phil, Phil…

I am sorry that you expected people to pat you on the back and tell you, “great idea, marry the Hindu girl.”

It seems to me that very often on this forum when people hear something they do not want to hear they quickly pull out the “judgment” card and play it.

If people agree with you, they are kind and caring. If they do not, they are judgmental and cruel.

Toughen up, Phil. What people here are trying to tell you is the same thing the Church has to say about mixed marriage: BAD IDEA.

Did you read the encyclical I suggested?

Also, you are NOT the prodigal son returning to the fold, you are someone who is IN the fold and blinded by your feelings for this girl. I’m sure she’s a very nice person, and you mention a beautiful girl. That is quite enough for a nice friendship-- it is not nearly enough for a successful marriage.

You are young. Yes, 25 is young. And, idealistic. You believe you can just overcome the fact that she believes in a pagan pantheon of gods, does not believe in moral absolutes, or objective truth. You believe you can just get married, and it will all be fine.

We are telling you-- out of love-- that it will not be alright. Go read the dozens of posts (I would venture to say in the many dozens) over on Family Life that have been started by people who did NOT heed the Church’s warning against mixed marriages and are living in a nightmare-- or divorcing a nightmare. It’s heartbreaking. Truly heartbreaking. I cannot read them sometimes because they are so tragic. So, when I read of someone who has yet to step in that trap-- yes of course I want to reach out to him and say DON’T GO THERE. Not out of judgment, out of care and concern. And, don’t think “that can’t happen to me”. Christ himself is the one who over and over again admonished against foolishness, against building a house on sand, against a house divided.

I definitely didn’t expect people to say good job and pat me on the back, I didn’t say that anywhere in my post. In my post, I even thanked people for their feedback and everything. The fact is I am struggling with this issue already, it’s not like I am defiantly going against everyone and saying, try and stop me. I figured I could ask my question and receive information, and if you want to express your opinion, go right ahead, I’m just saying, I do not sense any love or compassion at all. never did anyone say, that must be a tough situation, or I hope everything works out for you, etc. or anything that may seem like someone understands or at least cares. I didn’t ask this question to just get reassurance for my perspective or for someone to say you should definitely do that, cuz that would be awesome. That’s why this forum is here, it’s not here to make people feel good about anything they do, it’s here to hopefully give people the Catholic position on things. But I also thought the Catholic position involved empathy, compassion and understanding, things I did not feel from everyone. It’s easy to just sit there and say, dont do that, that’s wrong, and here’s why, it’s another to first understand the person, and then to offer information. it’s sort of like if someone was addicted to drugs. and they come to us and say, hi, I’m addicted to heroin, and I really feel good when I use it, and I want to know what to do. and then it’s like everyone responds by saying, stop doing this! it’s completely wrong, and the Church definitely does not want you to continue, this is destroying your life, and you have to stop, it’s completely unacceptable. how can you even think of doing this to yourself? I dont think that’s the right response. This person is facing a situation and they need care and concern from people and understanding. maybe someone could say, that must be so horrible to be addicted, I can’t imagine how bad that must feel… or even asking the person how it has affected his life, first. that’s in no way encouraging or patting him on the back for what he is doing, but it’s at least acknowledging that he belongs and that he is loved. I must say I was quite surprised, shocked even, at the tone of your response 1ke, starting off with “Phil, Phil, Phil…” and then saying “I am sorry that you expected people to pat you on the back”, all of that sounds pretty patronizing, and I hope you can understand how people don’t like to be talked to like that.

I know at this point there are 2 possible responses to this message. First response is something to show you understand what I mean and that I just want some understanding and compassion. The other possible response is to just continue telling me that what I am thinking about is wrong and bad and I shouldn’t do it, etc. If you just plan to reiterate your opposition and to not show any care or empathy whatsoever, then I would respectfully ask that you not respond again to this message. It’s like I said before, I don’t care how much you know, until I know how much you care.

Thank you.

I am really sorry that the responses came off as condemning and uncaring to you. I know mine, and I suspect the others were meant in a spirit of love.

At the end of your OP you summed up your basic question, and I think that is what we were trying to respond to, also, take a look at your own signature line…If everything you say about your commitment and love of the Catholic faith is true, if your sig line is true…that is what we were responding to.

Think none of us understand?

I was a Catholic who married a non-Catholic. We had three kids. Now they are grown and nearly grown. We have 5 different faiths among us, one of them atheism.

I’m sorry that I didn’t see that you were asking for sympathy. I thought you were only seeking information.

I don’t regret my decision, I hope that in 25 years you are comfortable with yours as well.

Thank you so much cheddarsox, I am very glad you wrote that email, it means a lot to me. I understand where you are coming from too. I’m glad you didn’t get defensive and went out of your way to understand my situation. I think sometimes when we forget there is an actual human being involved in a situation, it’s easy to be matter of fact about something, you know. So, thanks again cheddarsox, you have helped me appreciate this board a lot more, and even brought some previous comments into a better light.

I think your assessment is overly emotional and fairly typical of someone your age and in the situation you are in. The responses you are getting are from people with experience. If you dont like what the voice of experience has to say, dont ask for it. Im not trying to be harsh, but you need understand that these little “issues” that are so conveniently kept separate between yourself and your girlfriend will, unfortunately, probably only become worse rather than better as your lives join. This is especially true if you plan on having children. It is a difficult situation when you have a Catholic married to a non-Catholic Christian - I see no reason to believe it will be easier in your situation and several reasons to believe it will be more difficult. My reaction is one from experience, what is the basis for your reaction?

Interesting observation you make regarding being in another’s shoes. If I had to guess, I would say you are getting responses from people who are, or have been in your shoes, while you have never been in their shoes and are criticizing their advice to you. We all wish you well. You need to understand the likelihood of an increasing issue with respect to your religious differences especially with respect to raising children.

If you wouldn’t want to marry her as she is right now, then don’t marry her.

I should also say that Hinduism is quite diverse. Some Hindus do say “It doesn’t really matter which religion you belong to,” whereas for other Hindus, “It really does matter!” In fact, both ideas can be held in different contexts: as far as belief is concerned, your girlfriend says “It doesn’t matter”. But when it comes to following family tradition, “Hey, it does matter!”:smiley: Intellectual belief is ephemeral and changeable. That’s why Hindus don’t make such a big deal out of it. But when it comes to issues of the deeper personality, ancestors, family tradition, raising children, community relationships: that’s where the rubber hits the road. :thumbsup:

I would like to reiterate my appreciation over cheddarsox’s comments. He cares that I felt how I did about the responses I received, and showed genuine concern. Again, I would just like to say I appreciate feedback I receive from people, but I think some people may have missed the point I was trying to make.

I dont mind if you say you dont think it’s a good idea, I’m not looking for a pat on the back. If I wanted a pat on the back, I wouldn’t have come to catholic answers forums to give my question, I would have submitted it to a site about mixed marriage or something. I just wanted feedback.

My whole point is that there is an effective way to give suggestions and an ineffective way in my opinion. Cheddarsox understands this. He (I’m assuming you’re a man) gave me advice and discouraged such a union, but also was charitable enough to try to see my perspective and understand me as a person. I appreciate that a lot. I didn’t get mad at Cheddarsox because he didn’t pat me on the back or something, but he was a good person who did his best to understand.

I’m not saying that no one else cared or understood, I’m just saying that’s the impression I got from Cheddarsox, and this is not a critique of everyone else’s response, and I am not saying this to be argumentative or say anything negative about anyone who responded.

I hope you can understand what I am saying. I’m sure some people will, but others may not be able to. Thank you.

Phil, with all due respect and compassion for your situation, what you hear from us is likely to be a very small portion of what you experience from the girl’s family.

Each family is different. Reactions can range from outright conversion to the Christian faith to … well … some very serious scenarios which could involve not only yourself but your family and your beloved girl as well.

I think it is very wise to sound out the girl’s family as your next step.

btw did you know that a goodly percentage of South India is Christian? Kerula State to be precise. That might make it easier for the girl to make that leap should she be considering it. Out of concern for her though, you ought to sound out the situation with her family.

Hindu families can be very intransigent about their decisions. As you know it is usually the parents who decide about a child’s marriage – not the child herself. If you thought this was history, it is not.

I am trying to describe a situation in as tactful way as I can. It may not sound that way to you right now, but when you find out what can happen you will see that my comments have been very restrained.

God bless.

You’re doing a great job of being tactful about all of this Ani. You sound like you know a fair bit about this whole situation. Are you originally Indian yourself? Your name does not seem Christian. But yes, you’re right, and I appreciate your comments. You’re right, her family is a little uneasy about this situation, and that is a concern, for sure. She does Hindu things, but her theology seems rather Christian when I ask her specific questions. You’re right though in thinking that her family is quite influential in her life. Perhaps you and I could message in private on this issue. Thanks again.

[quote=phil8888]You’re doing a great job of being tactful about all of this Ani.
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I mean no harm to you. And I completely understand being attached to someone whose circumstances are – shall we say – challenging. Of course sometimes we are called to help each other overcome those challenges. And sometimes we are called to understand that the time for some challenges has not yet come in human history. But we are always called to surrender to wisdom.

Why not read the Book of Wisdom?

[quote=phil8888]You sound like you know a fair bit about this whole situation. Are you originally Indian yourself?
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I was born in India. My family was there for nine generations. My father and my uncles were truly great friends with folks of all sorts of beliefs in India. India – at one time – was an astonishingly multicultural country. I would hesitate to say that now though there still remain folks of many different faiths, language groups, and cultures.

[quote=phil8888]Your name does not seem Christian. But yes, you’re right, and I appreciate your comments. You’re right, her family is a little uneasy about this situation, and that is a concern, for sure.
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Her family may be merely uneasy and quite amenable to talking things over. On the other hand her family may be terrified of a possible interfaith marriage and quite amenable to doing any number of frightening things to stop you.

[quote=phil8888]She does Hindu things, but her theology seems rather Christian when I ask her specific questions.
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There are many things about Hindus which are lovely. Read some of what JP2 has to say about other faiths. Some years ago I spoke to representatives of different faiths over a neighbourhood controversy. The Hindu teacher said that in South India you only had to go out into the countryside to see the true gentleness of the people.

And she is right. She said that if a villager came across a medal of Mary accidentally dropped on the ground – remember this is quite likely because there are many Christians in the South – the dear souls would make a shrine of the lost object by placing flowers all around it. Thereafter everyone who passed would say a brief prayer in passing.

And from my memory I knew this was true. From my memory also I knew that the other kind of spirit also existed there. My first memories, afterall, were of gun fire.

[quote=phil8888]You’re right though in thinking that her family is quite influential in her life.
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My Uncle never failed in love for this country. He never has anything bad to say about them. But he has always been wise and very careful. A charismatic sort of guy. You would be wise to speak to her family on a friendly basis. Maybe at the next local cricket match. And then respect their wishes. It may be that you are left with a lifelong friendship rather than a marriage. But better that than a lifetime of bitterness and secrets and elephants in the room.

I would also speak to your own family and ask them to help you through this very difficult time of your life. When all is said and done, we can all hope that circumstances conspire for you and the girl to marry. But for your own sake, for the sake of the girl, and for the sake of both families, you must be strong enough to make a tough decision if the marriage is disallowed.

[quote=phil8888]Perhaps you and I could message in private on this issue.
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If we message in private then all the lurkers who are in similar situations and yet too shy to post will not be strengthened by your trust in your fellow Catholics.

[quote=phil8888] Thanks again.
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Not at all. God bless. :hug1:

Hi,

I was going through different threads and yours although a while back struck a chord. I wonder how it is going after a year has passed. I read through the posts and although they may have felt discouraging to you I can tell you they are not at all far away from the truth.

I married a hindu 15 years ago when I was 24 (just about your age). Considered the basics that the curch teaches (ask for a dispensation, raise kids catholics) and reached our own agreement (teach both cultures, allow the kids to decide what they want to do when they are older). I can tell you I had no idea then what a naive outlook ours was.

15 years later I find myself married to a very good man with two beautiful children. I also find myself struggling to assert my religion: being called sometimes for wanting to go to mass every Sunday and taking the children with me, encountering that after 15 years I had no idea my husband does not opposs abortion (I almost fainted at that one), struggling to explain the contradictions between the one true God and my husband pantheon of Gods (stories which my children hear almost every day), having to celebrate a child’s first communion almost alone because of how uncomfortable it made my husband feel (he came around at the end but it was too late to invite anyone but my closest family members to share what should have been one of the most special days in my daughter’s life), arguing with him over life beginning at conception, abortion vs. over-population, not getting him to agree to have more children (the over-population bit quite stuck with him). So, my husband is quite wonderful if we put religion aside. Unfortunately for him I’ve re-discovered my faith in the last few years. I thank God for it. I also thank God for letting me try my best to be a witness to his love and there is nothing else I can do than to continue to fight for my daughter’s souls and pray for my husband.

So, if I could do it again, would I have gotten married? Perhaps not. Have we made it work? Yes. Do I have a hard time when I’m with his family (and I love them dearly) and they want me to participate on their religious celebrations? Yes, it’s been quite difficult. Is it easy? Never! Do I hurt that I’m not able to share what’s most precious to me with him? You bet! Even so, God has blessed what was a not so well thought out decision of a 24 year old in love and has given us two beautiful creatures and I will spend the rest of my days loving God and loving the family I have and praying for them.

Good luck to you and God bless you!

K.

Hello, knema!

I am a “newlywed” married to a Hindu man and I’m Catholic! And, to be quite honest with you - I’m scared to death of having children. Part of it is just - - I have anxieties about major life decisions as it is; and another BIG part is our differences. I don’t know what conflicst we are in for. We don’t exactly have a “conflict-free” marriage now. I’m just worried about things he’ll want to introduce to our children that I may resist. I don’t know if that makes me “narrowminded” or not - but you know: being a Christian, you’re taught “there’s no way to the Father, but through Me,” among other Biblical-based teachings, passages. I don’t know. I just read y our post and I had to respond… reach out to you. I just joined. If you get this msg., I’d love to hear from you again. Thanks!

Mcanny :shrug:

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