DEAR ABBY: I read with great interest the column in which a young man asked whether or not to marry his girlfriend of another religious faith.
I met my husband more than 15 years ago. I am Christian; he is Jewish. Ours was a similar situation, and friends and relatives from both of our families advised us not to marry -- arguing, "What would the children be raised?"
The Christians wanted my husband to convert, and the Jews were upset that he was marrying out of the Jewish faith. My husband finally got fed up and told everyone to mind their own business because we were 27 years old and could decide for ourselves in a country that grants everyone religious freedom.
Today we're happily married and the parents of three wonderful children who celebrate and respect both religions. They pray all the time and have a deep respect for God. In the meantime, many of our friends and relatives who married within their faiths have divorced, and some of them do not have children with whom to share their faith. Furthermore, some of them have stopped attending worship services at all.
One relative recently told me that our children cannot respect two religions. I told her firmly, "You have to get over this issue. The children have a Jewish dad and a Christian mom. They do respect both religions, and they could probably teach you something about tolerance."
Perhaps John (the Apostle) put it best: "Love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God." (I John 4:7).
I hope the couple go ahead and follow their hearts, and I send my best wishes for happiness to them. -- DIANA K. RUBIN, PISCATAWAY, N.J.
DEAR DIANA: It is my belief that couples who love each other, respect each other's differences and are willing to compromise can overcome just about any barrier they encounter. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Your advice to couples considering marriage to someone of another faith is right on the mark. Honest communication and compromise are fundamental to success, along with self-awareness and basic familiarity with each other's religion. It's not always easy to know how you'll feel about the religious identification of your children when you're not even married yet and don't really know the difference between a baptism and a bris.
Another resource for Jewish/Christian couples, in addition to meetings with clergy, are programs like "Let's Talk" or "Yours, Mine and Ours," sponsored by Reform Jewish Outreach. Couples meet with the guidance of a trained facilitator to explore common issues of child-rearing and family holidays and to search out solutions that work for them. -- DRU GREENWOOD, DIRECTOR, UNION OF AMERICAN HEBREW CONGREGATIONS, COMMISSION ON REFORM JEWISH OUTREACH
DEAR DRU: Thank you for letting my readers know about this resource. "Let's Talk" groups and Introduction to Judaism classes are available throughout North America and can be found on the Internet at http://uahc.org/outreach/ or by calling Reform Jewish Outreach at the Union of American Hebrew Congregations at (212) 650-4230.