Interfaith Amateurs: Lessons from Our Young Christian-Hindu Marriage
It’s been four-and-a-half years since I published Saffron Cross: The Unlikely Story of How a Christian Minister Married a Hindu Monk with Upper Room Books.
Spoiler Alert! The Christian Minister (me) and the Hindu monk (Fred) are still married (eight years this July), and our interfaith marriage is stronger and more collaborative than I ever imagined it could be.
I wrote Saffron Cross in 2012 from libraries and coffee shops. Fred and I had only been married two years. Two years! Looking back, it seems foolish. What did we have to contribute to the broader interfaith conversation?
But the timing was perfect.
As Fred and I stumbled along naively, navigating different theological frameworks, I wrote down what we were living. It was like writing a memoir about how you survived an airplane crash while the turbulence is throwing you about.
It was hard being so raw and vulnerable in my discoveries and compromises within my east-meets-west relationship. I wrote about everything, from a sex-free honeymoon to vegetarianism to monastic vacations to polar opposite worship practices. I got a flack for it, too.
“Where’s Fred’s point of view?” A few readers asked. “It seems like you’ve done all the changing … what has he done?” Then there were blatant: “You’re unequally yoked … and you’re both going to hell!”
We pushed through, sharing our fledgling, crazy, eHarmony genesis story with the world. And then something amazing happened.
Hundreds of people reached out. The handful of nay-sayers drifted away, and we began hearing from people like us – who needed a quasi-manual on how to lean in faithfully to faith differences. Through emails and blog comments, folks shared their fears about falling in love with someone of another faith. They were honest about families and churches rejecting their match; they sought our wisdom as they considered marriage and future children.
They’d gifted their parents and friends with copies of the book, in hopes that they’d begin to understand what an empathetic interfaith life looks like.
When we read their stories, Fred and I stopped wrestling with the fact that we’re interfaith marriage amateurs. We no longer felt like imposters – instead, we were just regular humans, figuring it out as we went along. We had the support of our families and faith communities – something we realized most mixed-faith partners don’t have. So we kept sharing our eagerness for this kind of life. We could do this, we were doing this – and people were saying, “I needed this book!”
This story, given to us by the grace of God, has brought so much joy – even amid the wrestling. May Saffron Cross continue to inspire us all.
Want to learn more about this wild Christian-Hindu interfaith marriage ride? Get your copy of Saffron Cross here.
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