How important is it that people marry within their own faith?
Answer: Bahá’í law
permits Bahá’ís to marry non-Bahá’ís. In a faith that recognizes the
divine foundation of all the great religions, that condemns religious
prejudice, and encourages interfaith harmony, it would be inconsistent
for Bahá’ís to be forbidden to marry outside their religion.
But certain stipulations apply. Bahá’ís are required to have a Bahá’í
ceremony on the same day that any other marriage ceremony is performed.
Bahá’ís must not sign an agreement that would require them to raise
their children exclusively in the religion of the spouse, nor does the
Bahá’í have the right to insist that the children be raised as Bahá’ís,
if the partner is active in his/her faith. A consultative approach
should be used and an amicable, suitable arrangement made.
Common sense applies. If the individual is active in the Bahá’í
community, she should become familiar with the character of the
prospective non-Bahá’í spouse, and attempt to ascertain beforehand how
open the future partner would be to having a wife who will be a regular
participant in Bahá’í activities. Someone who is indifferent or opposed
to spiritual life may come to resent the partner’s time spent in
community activities or possibly insist at the outset that faith
activities be curtailed. This would constitute a potential infringement
on freedom of conscience and action. For obvious reasons, this type of
union is inadvisable.
At the same time, the Bahá’í partner should not neglect his or her
marriage partner because of attendance at Bahá’í activities. Bahá’ís
are advised to balance their work, faith and domestic life. Just as
family life should not be neglected in the name of
professional activities, nor should it be neglected in the name of
Under no circumstances should one’s commitment to the Bahá’í Faith be
a pretext for divorcing one’s spouse. But marriage
to a non-Bahá’í often presents certain challenges and privations. One
cannot share all of the deeper intimacies of the life of faith with
one’s partner. Marrying a committed Bahá’í would provide a common
foundation of shared values, but sharing a common faith does not
guarantee that the marriage will prove successful. Like all good
partnerships, marriage requires commitment and work. - Jack