Christian Women's Experience on Christian Muslim marriage. Part 11. By Jeanne Swartz.
18 Feb 2003
I am reading with interest the several letters related to the question about Christian-Muslim marriages and thought I would present a few comments of possible interest and perhaps questions the mother/daughter could ask this young man Jeanne Swartz.
Thank you so much for posting my entire letter on PCC. Because I chose to remain anonymous I was not sure if the letter would actually get posted or perhaps only in parts. After I sent the letter I could not get my mind off of the subject and believe this was God prompting me to send some other important facts Christians should know and especially women before becoming seriously involved with any Muslim man. I started reading the site to find more information about Pakistan in general and will continue to read because it has so much good content. I also think God had me find the site at the exact time of Mary's letter so I could respond but won't be posting further on this. Perhaps you could title this Christian woman's experience, PART II. God bless you for so much hard work to inform us about situations in Pakistan. I thank you for your kind considerations to allow me to let pass on what I learned.
1) After 9/11 Americans began to hear and see many Islamic quotes from the Quran and hadith. One such quote I heard from the muslim man after he told me he had serious intentions was "let there be no compulsion in religion". Then I began to meet other couples and some of the women who were (western) converts who told me their husbands had agreed to allow them to remain Christian and even raise children practicing both religions. But after marriage the husband changed their minds about children and also began to speak to their wife more and more about converting. Most of the women said they converted "for the sake of the children " and to keep family peace. Why does this happen? The men come under pressure because another rule of Islam is children must be raised Muslim so his family expects this. But how can a Christian teach your children about God and say nothing about Jesus or the Trinity, which is not believed in Islam? If you have a strong Christian family, wouldn't you receive equal pressure from family members who expect children to have a certain upbringing and it is truly fair to put innocent children in the middle of all this? These American converts did not openly say they were unhappy and I believe most had no problem with their decision, but most of them were not practicing Christians before they met their husbands, I was and I knew I could never convert or raise my children only with Muslim faith.
Then we see another contradiction to this "noncompulsion" in Islam because Muslim men can marry a Christian or Jewish woman, but ALL Muslim women have no choice but must marry Muslim men. Can anyone tell me why this is? Everyone knows women rule and raise the children and it could not be guaranteed that children would be raised Muslim, or not have some knowledge of another religion which might make them question Islam.
2) Islam allows men to marry up to 4 wives. Today problems arise because Muslim men living abroad often pursue (western) women without telling them they already have a wife. Or even worse happens if you are wife #1 and he decides to take another wife even if you do not approve because polygamy is forbidden in Christianity. Science today has also proven that multiple wives (partners) causes many diseases and some have no cure but death. Of course Islamic teachings clearly state the man must be able to provide for all wives and children so this is not happening as much now and I doubt any American muslim would openly have several wives, but if you start talking about marriage, will the Muslim man disclose this and would any such scenario be acceptable to you?
3) Then there are more common issues such as language and where you will live. Even if he and his immediate family have lived in the States for years there are probably many family members still overseas and remember the country of origin's culture has shaped them, just as anyone from western countries. My Muslim friend lived in London a few years, then came to America and had been here over 10 years when we met, but he still called home every week. So I recommend you learn his native language. Or will you rely on him to translate everything, especially when there are gatherings of family and friends? Will your children learn this language or will they never be able to really communicate with their paternal family members that they should get to know and love? Does he intend to remain in the States, will he apply for citizenship or does he expect you (and any children) to return or visit his country one day? Will you and your children really be comfortable there after living in our free country which has easy access to so many things? Again, most Muslim families in America still have extended family overseas and therefore have strong ties there. Often children raised in the States want to travel to experience their ethnic culture and meet family as they grow older. So think about a few of the common practices noted below:
In most Islamic countries women can not walk outside their home at their pleasure but must be escorted so even getting to the market for food can be a problem. Some countries don't allow women to drive and most Islamic countries will not allow women to travel outside their country or sometimes even local area without a husbands permission including taking away her individual passport as soon as she arrives in the country. One can clearly see and realize this with all the recent coverage of burnings of Christian churches in Pakistan and stories on Afghanistan and Iraq. The only time you saw women was during coverage on the Christian areas. But in most news stories shown of Islamic countries all you see are the men. Can you envision yourself and any daughters accepting and living like this?
4) While I might see such a relationship working if the couple remained in the United States because the Muslim population is also growing here I think it will become harder and harder for him to continue to separate the parts of his life or remain anonymous to other Muslims if that is how he has been living. Has your daughter ever met any of his close Muslim friends? Does she know and speak to any of his sisters regularly? Does she know if he attends mosque regularly and would he take and introduce her? If not these can be signals that he is hiding and using her and perhaps his intentions are not honest or moral. And even if he is sincere he is expecting his Muslim family and friends to accept a lot all of a sudden if they decide to marry and have never heard of this girl.
5) I think perhaps I should also clarify my understanding of 2 Corinthians 6: 14 -
The Bible does have many stories about men who took multiple wives or married foreign women. The New Testament gives details about how spouses who have come to Christ must remain married and interact with their spouses to try and bring them to true faith and knowledge about God. So we know that God permits marriage between people of different religions and as with all other life situations and decisions God does allow us to think freely and follow our human hearts and emotions. But God also gives us plenty of reasons to seek our closest relationships with other Christians. Surely we must not neglect God's instruction through the Bible to love everyone and even love our enemies and go into the world of non believers to share the good news of salvation only through Jesus. And surely because of these interactions such intermarriages will continue to happen. But the stories are there to strongly indicate the hardships that arise when we follow our own hearts without believing God can find the perfect (Christian) spouse for us. I recently heard a quote on a Christian radio station that in America there are now 7 million more single women than single men. And the majority of women are Christian while the men are not. Only half of the men profess Christianity but most not truly practicing. So perhaps this is God's challenge and "suffering" given to western women who have so much while most other women around the world have so little and often endure true physical suffering for Jesus. We must remember God only promises these (worldy) things after we first seek the kingdom of God and the greatest commandment is to love God with our whole heart, mind and soul. If we never seek after God but only seek earthly love and desires we will never attain eternity and God's unending love. And so perhaps your biggest question in life will be, will you give up your eternal life and also probably jeporadize the souls of children, just for a man?
Many people have asked me why if I know all this did I continue the relationship? My answer is I did not know all this immediately. At the beginning I truly do feel he was serious because only a few months after we met he told his family overseas, had me speak with them regularly (the ones who spoke English) and we regularly saw my family and friends. He also did attend a variety of church services and events with me and we often had very good non-confrontational discussions about religion. I also began meeting more and more "mixed" couples that "appeared" to be working. As I began to learn more about Islam (from him as well as other sources I found myself) and his "serious intentions" did not materialize I did begin to question more and realize he was most likely being heavily pressured by his family to reconsider (after about 2 Ã‚Â½ years). So even though during our last 2 years seeing each other he was not as "open" with me, to this day I only believe that he truly started out with honest and honorable intentions.
There is also great crisis with (western) Christian's divorcing today so this means a lot of parents and churches never talked about (or showed through their lives) the Bibilical understanding of marriage with their children - and the amount of work, communication and compromise it takes as the years progress and the romance fades. I feel this is a large reason why young women are so vulnerable and accepting of going out with young men from different countries and cultures. The greatest points I have to pass on from my experience are: maintain your Christianity and "honor", discuss religion so you can share Christ and pray as much as possible. Even though we are no longer together I still continue to pray for this man, his family and the many Muslims I met, most of whom were wonderful people but had many many questions about God and faith and seemed very worried about their afterlife. I truly feel that God had a purpose for this relationship and is bringing a lot of foreigners to America to experience true freedom in lifestyle and faith which they do not have in their own countries - this is also true for Christians coming from overseas who I find also question the "openness" of Americans to other cultures. And yes, we should learn from them and be cautious and never give up our faith. But it is our primary responsibility as Christians to love everyone we meet as God loves them and even to reach out and SEEK the lost, even in the most difficult of situations. So as God places nonbelievers in our path, let's accept the responsibility to save these many lost that God truly loves. Anonymous on East Coast of USA.