By Ahmad Jenkins
Having a strong spiritual balance is an important aspect of overall human health. Just as you would eat, sleep, and exercise to achieve better health; you must also be able to practice spiritual values for better spiritual health. There’s no more important place for improved spiritual health than in the family, and families that are interfaith (comprised of different religious faiths) are no different.
While they come with a unique set of challenges, with the decline of religion in the US the way it is, spiritual families have to still thrive and coexist in an increasingly secular American culture. A common myth about interfaith families is that they are either agnostic or confused and unproductive environments for the spiritual development of most of the family members, especially young children.
Mom and Dad set the structure.
When it comes to the spiritual framework of any family it’s up to mom and dad to build the foundation. This can prove to be difficult if parents aren’t on the same page as to what the spiritual worldview of the family is. It’s something my wife and I took seriously before we got married. We wanted our family to be healthy spiritually and enjoy the benefits of having a solid value-based spiritual environment.
One where religious values are lived in every aspect of life, rather than just followed inconsistently. It also meant looking at who we are as believers and where we were in our spiritual practices being sure to address where we can improve.
5 before 5: Secrets of success.
1. God is One:
Both our faiths have differences that could cause conflict; however, they aren’t really sources of conflict when families sincerely agree on this one basic concept prevalent in all faiths. Putting theological differences to the side and focusing on that one foundational truth isn’t as hard as it may seem. God is beyond comparison to anything created, and it isn’t a far-off concept to embrace that He is worshipped by all people just as devoutly. This is where families can have more conversations about God and where each family member feels His guidance is moving the family.
2. Be open to learning from other family members.
Sophia and I take the time out to learn what each other’s beliefs are. Not all Christians and Muslims believe the same, likewise; as individuals, our beliefs are just as varied. Learning more about what your partner believes and what that means to them helps the family become closer spiritually, and sharing openly is a great foundational habit.
3. Worshipping together.
Worshipping together is another great way for interfaith families can connect spiritually. Praying together doesn’t have to be in a particular style or fashion of either religious faith, but general prayer amongst family members when they do come together for prayer.
4. Teaching together.
When we acknowledge that the spouses are the spiritual foundation of the interfaith family, they must be able to swim in a deeper spiritual ocean of their household that comprises of two faiths. It will mean they will also have to become students if they are to instruct and guide their children in their developing spiritual worldview. Just as with praying together, interfaith families must be ready to step into some uncomfortable waters at times, but their personal spiritual convictions should never feel threatened. Learning about the personal spiritual beliefs of other family members should be just as exciting as sharing.
5. Seeking knowledge together.
It goes without saying that in order to guide a family spiritually, one must have knowledge. There’s no easy button here. While you don’t have to be a theologian, a little study of your spouse’s faith, along with attaining a deeper understanding of your own goes a long way in helping interfaith families come to common ground knowledge of each other spiritually. The following are a couple of books my wife and I have found to be very helpful.
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