A Hindu Monk and a Baptist Preacher got married…

on November 29, 2013

About one in four Americans (27%) is intentionally sharing their married life with someone whose religious belief system is different from their own.[1] If difference within traditions like Protestantism is included, the number jumps to 37%.[2] This emerging trend is consistent with the generally agreed-upon trajectory of our culture. We are moving into a period of intense plurality. Difference—in all its forms—is pushing its way into the lives, churches, schools, and neighborhoods of Americans.

As people face these new experiences they often look for resources to help them navigate their new reality. This has produced what the Huffington Post calls a “mini-boom of guides to interfaith marriage and family.” A case in point is J. Dana Trent’s recently released book, Saffron Cross: The Unlikely Story of How a Christian Minister Married a Hindu Monk.

Trent’s book describes how she—a Baptist minister—met and fell in love with Fred Eaker, a practicing Hindu. The rapid increase in interfaith marriage poses a significant pastoral challenge for the Christian church. It’s important to remember that this is not the first time in which the Christian church has had to engage in pastoral and theological reflection on the nature of marriage and of marriage to those who are outside the household of faith.

The early church developed in the context of a pluralistic culture where, much like today, the cardinal virtue was theistic inclusivity. Greco-Roman culture was willing to welcome new gods as long as they could be incorporated into the already recognized deities. We see from St. Paul’s interaction with the people of Athens that the Greeks were eager to learn of this “foreign deity” and this “new teaching” (Acts 17: 18, 19). Early Christianity was quite comfortable in communicating the message of Christ to those who had yet to experience it.

As Paul addressed problems that arose in the churches under his apostolic care, he found it necessary to give the following counsel to the church at Corinth, “Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership have righteousness and iniquity?” (2 Co. 6:14ff.).

This verse is often used to warn against the dangers of marrying someone of another faith. And the warning is likely well heeded. Yet, it’s also likely that Paul here is speaking more broadly than simply of matrimony.

As the church navigated life in a highly pluralistic culture—one with a high regard for the worship of traditional deities and of the emperors—Paul had to give them some stern advice.

He instructs them to flee from the worship of deities other than the God of Jesus Christ (1 Co. 10:14). This was especially awkward in the practice of eating meat that had been offered to idols (vv. 15-22). In the end, Paul’s rubric is that all actions ought to be directed to the glory of God (10:31) and to the service of neighbor (10:24).

How then does this relate to marriage? The clearest explication of St. Paul’s views on marriage between Christians and non-Christians is found in 1 Corinthians 7. Speaking to Christian spouses who had presumably come to their Christian faith after marriage and subsequently found themselves married to someone not sharing their Christian faith, Paul says:

…the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his [believing] wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her [believing] husband…. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so (14, 15a).

As Paul responds pastorally to the case of interfaith marriage, he does so with a goal in mind that is largely absent from contemporary reflections. Certainly, Paul wishes that there be peace in marriage. He sees some benefit to the unbelieving partner in being married to a “saint” and thereby mysteriously “made holy.”  Yet, part of the reason that Paul wishes these marriages to endure is that he desires for the spouses to come to faith:

For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? (16).

Paul could not have conceived of a practicing Christian choosing to marry someone outside of the Christian faith. Saffron Cross, on the other hand, arrives at a starkly different conclusion and motivation from St. Paul.

Trent writes of a moment when she tried to help her husband become a Christian by inviting him to be baptized: “As soon as those words came out of my mouth, I realized that I did not see Hinduism as an equally valid path.” There’s an awkward recognition of the desire to see her husband come to saving faith, followed by a renunciation of that presumably silly and un-modern construct.

Commonly, perhaps not inevitably, when persons of differing faith enter the marriage union there is a reticence to somehow find one or other of the beliefs to be inferior. As a result there is an almost syncretistic incorporation of rival beliefs into a new “family religion.” In Trent’s case, the article outlines their religious practice as follows:

Eaker attends church services and teaches Sunday school with Trent, but refrains from singing the doxology, which ends with “Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.” They also worship together at home, at an altar that includes a photo of Eaker’s swami, two Gaura-Nitai deities, and an icon of Christ. Their joint worship includes offering food at the altar three times a day. That’s a duty that Trent takes care of. At first, she was uncomfortable with that. Now she says the altar helps her focus on spending time with Jesus in prayer.”

In essence this practice makes a distinction between form and content that allows the two to practice their religions together.

Yes, Trent worships at an altar with two Hindu deities as well as an icon of Jesus, but she’s really only thinking about Jesus all appearances to the contrary. Likewise, Eaker is happy to chant away as long as he is not required to acknowledge that God is the tri-unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Confused as this practice may seem, it is the perfect incarnation of the spirit of this age—the intensely interior, private, Gnostic sort of spirituality that belongs in what is, for all intents and purposes, a religious universe of one.

Yet, at the same time it appears to fall short of what Paul has in mind when he writes to the Corinthians. As we’ve seen there is clearly a desire in Paul for there to be peace in such marriages, but this is trumped by the desire that the partner come to saving faith and a recognition of the irreconcilable difference that exists between a Christian and one whose faith is in someone other than Christ.

The challenge for the church will be navigating this new world in a way that is faithful to the teachings of Scripture, and that is pastorally able to guide Christians who marry those outside of the faith into a marriage that honors God in it’s peace and redemptive witness. What is not an option, however, is for the church to simply acknowledge the validity of all paths to God. In reality, Saffron Cross depicts the creation of a new and idiosyncratic religion that has blended two historic faiths into a uniquely American hybrid.

[1] U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, 34. Available online at: http://religions.pewforum.org/pdf/report-religious-landscape-study-full.pdf

[2] Ibid.

  1. Comment by Gabe on November 30, 2013 at 12:42 am

    What a tragic story. Scripture is clear on the issue of marriage and now this Baptist pastor has put herself in an ugly situation.

    Sadly what has happened is all too predictable:

    “They also worship together at home, at an altar that includes a photo of Eaker’s swami, two Gaura-Nitai deities, and an icon of Christ. Their joint worship includes offering food at the altar three times a day. That’s a duty that Trent takes care of. At first, she was uncomfortable with that. Now she says the altar helps her focus on spending time with Jesus in prayer.”

    So, rather than holding firm in her faith and making her husband holy (via the passage in 1 Corinthians 7), Ms. Trent has engaged in full-blown syncretism. She’s worshiping at an altar used for other gods (similar to many during the time of Solomon and the following divided kingdom), she’s blatantly disregarding the Second Commandment by worshiping an image of Christ and she’s even in charge of providing food on this “multi-religious” altar.

    And the kicker: Trent claims that this helps her focus on spending time with Jesus in prayer. Christ called us to worship in spirit and in truth. The truth is that He alone is God, our worship needs to be done in obedience to His commands, and this sad blending of religions is a slap in the face to the God she claims to worship. How does she teach anything out of the Bible when her personal worship life is an absolute mess?

  2. Comment by Daisy on December 7, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    Gabe, assuming my long, first post to this blog is approved to appear: be aware that some of us just don’t care.

    I’m kind of in the process of leaving the Christian faith anyway, after having accepted Christ as a Savior when I was a kid

    I find myself still single at age 40 something.

    I am tired of waiting for the Christian Prince Charming husband that the Baptist church and my Christian mother told me God would send me, if I just prayed, waited, stayed a virgin.

    Still a virgin at age 40ish, prayed, waited, attended singles functions at Baptist churches, tried dating sites, etc etc, but am still single in my 40s. And I’m tired of it.

    I am no longer interested in waiting for a “Christian” spouse.

    I’ve read many stories in Christian and Non Christian news sites of Christian husbands, some of whom are preachers, who have been arrested for spousal abuse, spousal murder, or for fondling children.

    You’ll have to do better than telling a quasi- agnostic, quasi Christian woman that based on one little verse about “not being yoked,” that I ought to spend the rest of my life utterly alone and single than consider marrying a Non Christian man.

    I see testimonies by Christian women who admit to having had abortions and fornicated all over the place in their teens and 20s who are married to Christian guys now, living comfortable, middle class lives.

    Me, who actually lived a godly life (I did not sleep around or anything), am still single, and am being told to die lonely and single, rather than marry a Non Christian. No thank you.

  3. Comment by Gabe on December 11, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Daisy, I sense a lot of pain in your posts. Let me try to address some of the issues that you bring up.

    You said, “I am tired of waiting for the Christian Prince Charming husband that the Baptist church and my Christian mother told me God would send me, if I just prayed, waited, stayed a virgin.” Reading through my Bible, I don’t find anywhere that God promises to bring us a spouse. Sadly, whoever told you that by praying, waiting, and staying a virgin would bring you a man was wrong. These are all good things to do in obedience to God, but they do not guarantee a husband.

    You also said, “You’ll have to do better than telling a quasi- agnostic, quasi Christian woman that based on one little verse about “not being yoked,” that I ought to spend the rest of my life utterly alone and single than consider marrying a Non Christian man.”

    If your sole purpose of having a relationship with God is to procure a husband, I’m afraid you have missed the reason to give Him your life and call him Savior. He is not a means to an end for you to get a husband. He is the end (heck, he even calls Himself the Omega). Even if God were to give you a husband, you would find out that he’s not the Prince Charming that you have been imagining. He’d be more like me or any other Christian man….sinful, yet always asking to have God refine us and make us more like Him. You are setting yourself up for big disappointment when you begin to worship the idea of a husband. I really hope you don’t leave the faith over it.

    Additionally, you also said that you wouldn’t be convinced by “one little verse” about being unequally yoked. If you are willing to walk away from God over this issue, one verse from God will likely not make one difference. But secondly, I have 4 small children. Whether I tell them one time or ten times to not touch the hot stove, it reflects a reality that I do not want them to get hurt. It doesn’t matter how many times I say it, their touching of the hot stove will result in their pain and I give my warning out of love. Similarly, God loves you, and has said that, if you love Him, He asks you to not be joined with someone who also doesn’t love God due to God’s amazing love for you.

    I know that there are many stories of Christian men who make horrific decisions in their marriages. The scandal of the cross is that its never to late for any of us to heap those horrific decisions on the cross, let Christ take the hit for them as He did, and let Him renew us and find true forgiveness.

    I hope that what I said will have a positive impact on you, God truly wants the best for you, even when we can’t know why He does what He does.

  4. Comment by Benjamin Schlechter on November 30, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    I want to know which Baptist denomination ordained her? Because, The Southern Baptist Convention, Independents,Missionary, and Freewills will never ordain a woman to the pulpit based on what the apostle Paul says in scripture, along with the issue of being unequally yoked.

  5. Comment by Jeff Gissing on December 2, 2013 at 11:14 am

    I don’t know. Several denominations including the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the American Baptists Churches (USA), the Alliance of Baptists all ordain women.

  6. Comment by David on November 30, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    Some might see these two as unequally yoked, but they really are not. Neither appears to take all that seriously the total claim of the gospel over their lives and marriage. They seem to be willing to settle for a syncretic spirituality that demands little of either, except to affirm each other’s “equally valid path.” They are indeed equally yoked, I’m sorry to say.

  7. Comment by Jeff Gissing on December 2, 2013 at 11:21 am

    It’s always difficult to judge how seriously someone takes the claims of the gospel, isn’t it. I realize that you said “appears” and I think I agree with the point you’re making. As you note, we are making suppositions which is a tricky business.

  8. Comment by David Christie on December 3, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    Actually it’s not. If someone claims to be a Christian and lives the life of a serial killer, I’m thinking the someone isn’t taking his spiritual life all that seriously. While that is an extreme example, there are flags that are telling. That’s where our gifts of discernment come into play. Time to start paying attention.

  9. Comment by David Christie on December 3, 2013 at 11:10 pm


  10. Comment by Jeff Gissing on November 30, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    This is going to be something that the church will need to formulate pastoral responses to. I’d like to think more about how to do that.

  11. Comment by Walter L Taylor on November 30, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    It strikes me as rather sad, that this young Baptist minister does not believe in her faith enough that she would want to have a Christian home. Essentially, that is the decision that she has made.

  12. Comment by Jeff Gissing on December 2, 2013 at 11:15 am

    It does strike me that attempting to raise kids as Christian and Hindu effectively creates a third religion.

  13. Comment by David Christie on December 3, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    Or at least confuse them completely……. Why would any child follow either faith when it wasn’t important enough to the parents to maintain their faith in all areas of life.

  14. Comment by Ryan Hunter on November 30, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    Dear Gabe,

    With all due respect, I have to correct you on your assertion that Ms. Trent engages in “worshipping an image of Christ”. I take it that you are unfamiliar with the veneration — not: not worship — which all (lowercase ‘o’) orthodox Christians have extended to Saints for centuries?

    Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholics (sui iuris Churches in communion with the See of Rome) continue the ancient tradition of reverencing icons (images) made to the glory of God and His Saints. These are visual aids in prayer which remind the Christian of the miracle of the Incarnation, that the Second Person of the Trinity was, and is, embodied in the flesh.

    It used to be widespread and normative for most Roman Catholics as well to venerate Saints through icons, and many still do. From time immemorial, Christians have distinguished between the worship, or latreia (λατρεία), due to God alone and the high honor (doulia) or reverence accorded to Saints of the Church.

    No one actually worships images made of wood and paint, or stone or wooden statues; Hindus do not do this in their worship. They believe in a henotheistic or modalist understanding of God which is not at all the same as our monotheistic Trinitarian understanding, but Hindus do not worship statues or images of their deities anymore than Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Christians (some 150-200 million people) worship icons which depict our saints. I would recommend St. John of Damascus’ treatise On the Divine Images and St Athanasius’ On the Incarnation for your review.

    In Christ,

  15. Comment by Jeff Gissing on December 1, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    While what you have written is correct there are Christians who believe that icons veneration violates the 2nd Commandment if and when there is a depiction of the Godhead a la Rublev’s beautiful icon of the trinity.

  16. Comment by Gabe on December 1, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    Agreed, Jeff. I have no problem of holding up past believers that should inspire us in our Christian life. I don’t think that’s what this Baptist pastor is doing here. She has a picture of Christ on an altar with other deities…sort of a Mount Rushmore of gods, where God has distinctly said, “I alone am God”.

    Ryan believes that I am mistaking saint veneration for deity worship. First, what this pastor is doing is not saint veneration, as Christ is not a saint. Second, provision of food offerings before numerous images is offering worship (and in a sense sacrifice). Read 2 Kings 17 as God goes over the evil that the Northern Kingdom did that eventually lead to their destruction. They offered food and drink offerings to other idols, which God considered to be worship of false deities, and the people that the Assyrians settled in the region after the Northern Kingdom fell in 722 B.C. were happy to add worship of the Lord to worship of their own deities…similar to the activity taking place in this article.

    Is there any reason that any Christian pastor should be doing what she is doing? I don’t believe so.

  17. Comment by Jeff Gissing on December 2, 2013 at 11:16 am

    You’re right to make the distinction between veneration of an icon and placing that icon alongside other deities in a religious service that involves offerings. Not cool.

  18. Comment by Fred Eaker on December 4, 2013 at 6:44 pm


    Thank you for clarifying the this concept. As a Hindu, I have immense appreciation for the Eastern tradition of Christianity. I often joke with Dana that she should convert to the Eastern Orthodox Church 🙂

    It is worth noting that, in the Bible, idolatry is almost always mentioned alongside lust and greed. However, in Hindu theology, the act of deity worship is a petition to the Lord to remove lust and greed from our hearts. So the idolatry described in the Bible is not the same as Hindu deity worship.

    I would equate modern idolatry with consumerism. The effort involved in accumulating wealth, buying “things”, securing them, insuring them, etc. is a type of worship when you consider the amount of mental and physical energy involved. Christ consistently calls us to give up such an approach to life, as does Hindu Vedanta theology.

  19. Comment by Marco Bell on December 4, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    Thank you, Fred Eaker, for stating one of the obvious sins of our current culture: Consumerism!

    And the altar for a Deity/Deities, is not a setting for slighting the “One and only”, but instead, is a place for reminding us to show reverence, humility and to encourage incessant prayer for those “lost” to this world (of consumerism).

  20. Comment by Jeff Gissing on December 5, 2013 at 6:36 am

    Fred, thanks for commenting. As I see it, there *is* a connection between idolatry and lust and greed. Idolatry, in the Christian sense, is the worship of anything or anyone instead of the God of Jesus Christ. From my perspective I’m not able to affirm what you say: “So the idolatry described in the Bible is not the same as Hindu deity worship.”

    Thanks for posting!

  21. Comment by Fred Eaker on December 9, 2013 at 10:22 am

    Jeff, I don’t understand your statement.

    Are you implying that Hindu deity worship reinforces lust, greed, and worldliness? Or do you take exception to how deity worship “appears” to be different from Christian? Or do you disagree with the idea that the God of Christians and the God of the Hindus is the same God?

    From a Hindu perspective, the God of Christ is also the God of the Hindus. He is One manifesting Himself in many ways (ekam sad vipra bahudha vadanti agnim yamam matariswanam ahuh Rigveda Samhita 1.164.46), according to the heart of those who worship Him (brahmeti paramatmeti bhagavan iti sabdyate Bhagavata Purana 1.2.11).

    To deny that God manifests Himself in different ways to different cultures also denies his extremely merciful nature. It also brings into question why God would create people in different cultures, never allow them to learn about Christ, and then punish them for it.

  22. Comment by Jeff Gissing on December 9, 2013 at 10:22 pm


    In response:

    1. I am saying that the worship of Hindu deities is not the worship of the God of the Bible who is the Father of Jesus Christ. As a result, the worship of Hindu deities is the worship of that which is not god.

    2. The God of Christianity and the deity/ies of Hinduism are different. The God of Christianity being, amongst other things, a trinity in unity.

    3. To affirm that God reveals himself through nature (generally) and through Scripture (specifically) does not mitigate against God’s mercy. If we begin with the presupposition that God is under no compulsion to reveal himself in the first place, his decision to disclose Himself to Israel and subsequently to the Christian church is itself an act of great mercy.

    4. With respect to differing cultures, again your reasoning presupposes some duty in God to reveal himself to all people and allow all people to find him in the way of their choosing. No such duty inheres upon God.

    Thanks for commenting.

  23. Comment by Fred Eaker on December 10, 2013 at 12:41 pm


    To clarify, the worship of Hindu deities is not the worship of stone, wood, or nature in general. Western Protestants have reverence for the Bible as the Word of God (Logos) and the Eucharist as the body of Christ, despite both being composed of temporary material elements. Christians don’t worship the paper the Bible is printed on or the flour used to bake bread for Eucharist. Those ingredients are “not God” by your own definition. However, Christians recognize the transformative power of the elements of worship and ritual because the Lord is present when we approach them with reverence and humility. “They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions.” (Catechism 1131) Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox tradition, of course, place more emphasis on sacraments.

    The same principal applies to Hindu deity worship. The Lord has a form (rupa) that is composed of pure existence, consciousness, and joy (sat-cit-ananda), yet we are unable to perceive this form due to our sinful nature. But the Lord mercifully manifests Himself as the deity to help us relate to Him as a person. His form and personality are all described in great detail in the Hindu scripture just as the Eucharist is described in the Bible. Both are valid means to experience a particular aspect of the Lord according to our sincerity and His desire.

    And like the theology of homooúsios in the conception of the Trinity, Hindus have a similar theology called advayam-tattva in which all manifestations of the Lord (including Christ) are harmonized despite their differences.

    Please keep in mind that Hindu Vaishnavism does not deny the divinity of Christ but we would posit that God has not limited Himself to a single manifestation. For Christians who wish to pursue God as the Father, Son, and Spirit, we honor that path and find brotherhood in our common pursuit of the Divine.

    In fact, Hindus posit that since everything is dependent on God for its existence, there is no question of what is God or “not God.” The Lord’s presence is a question of degree–He is more present as Christ and in His disciples than He is in the hearts of the Pharisees. He is more present when our yearning for Him is deep.

    I am not presupposing that God has a duty to reveal Himself in multiple cultural contexts. The fact is He already has, hence the existence of many faith traditions and saints in those traditions. The Lord is not bound by duty, He is bound by love. He is predisposed to be merciful and kind to those who love Him deeply. The idea that God would only reveal Himself to Israel does put a human limit on His mercy and implicitly denies the continued existence of rich faith traditions before and after Christ appeared in the world.

    The Lord is omniscient but he also has a heart.

  24. Comment by Marco Bell on December 2, 2013 at 9:52 am

    “…What is not an option, however, is for the church to simply acknowledge the validity of all paths to God. In reality, The Saffron Cross depicts the creation of a new and idiosyncratic religion that has blended two historic faiths into a uniquely American hybrid.”

    Don’t worry about “losing your identity” to another “hybrid” religion.
    It is better for the planet to see relevant similarities, and thus push for pluralism in order to preserve the planet from warring religious followers.
    Like Gandhi said: (paraphrasing) “I like your Christ, it’s your followers (Christians) that frighten me.”

    All paths lead to God if the path includes service to Humanity!

    Peace be upon you.

  25. Comment by Jeff Gissing on December 2, 2013 at 11:19 am

    Some Christians would agree with your point. There is value in seeking the common good and in so doing all people receive God’s common grace. However, those of us in the Reformed Churches make a distinction between common grace and the saving grace of the Gospel. It’s a good thing to serve others–indeed God commands it–serving others may indeed, in a limited sense, lead to God. What it will not do, however, is reconciled us to God.

  26. Comment by Adrian Croft on December 2, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    If we all get to God eventually, why not lock up all the churches and forget the whole thing?

    I have trouble understanding the quiche-eaters who think “spirituality” is enough in itself. Talking about “spirituality” or “religion” is like saying “language” – if you can’t communicate in “language,” you have to use English or German or Spanish or Chinese or some SPECIFIC language. There is no “spirituality” or generic “religion.” There are some extremely shallow types out there who can get by on “spirituality” the same way that some 4-year-olds could live on cotton candy – it’s possible, but who would want to?

    I wouldn’t bet the farm on this very shallow woman and equally shallow man having a marriage that last. People that shallow tend to have wandering eyes, and the other body parts inevitably follow.

  27. Comment by Gabe on December 3, 2013 at 9:31 am

    Well put, Adrian.

    It’s funny that those who attack the exclusivity that each religion claims (not just Christianity) use it in every other part of their lives. They would never fill out their tax forms saying that 4+4 is 10 or whatever you feel it should be as long as you are doing math. Yet they treat their spiritual lives that way. The law of non-contradiction applies to all parts of our lives.

  28. Comment by Marco Bell on December 3, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    We need not lock up any worship center for the sake of our commonality in our goals, but we must keep the richness of our diversity as mentioned about language. As there are such differences, doesn’t that in itself speak to the universality of faith and religion?

    I have a hard time believing that there is ONLY ONE Religion in a world that is so large, and yes, I don’t find the different Dieties to be confrontational in their inherent purpose of leading parishioners to “Goodness to Mankind” (for lack of a better generalization).

    With respect and humility,

  29. Comment by became_a_baptist_when_the_umc_rejected_salvation on December 4, 2013 at 8:17 am

    Your perspective might be correct Marco, but only if the perspective of the Jewish Tanakh and the Christian Bible are incorrect.

    The Marco gospel and the standard Christian gospel as presented in the straightforward text of the Bible are in logical conflict.

    If your version is correct, then more power to ya.

  30. Comment by Marco Bell on December 11, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    My not being an expert on either text, I can only say, that there need not be any distinction of those that seek God, by their geography or language.
    I can’t see how “my” gospel could be anything less than the “Christian” gospel, since we both seek to know God.

    BTW, I greatly respect and admire the intelligent exchanges from Fred Eakers and Jeff Gissing, and others who have something to say on this matter, so thank you for your input as well, “Becameabaptist…”
    What acronym would be suitable when addressing you?

  31. Comment by Greg Paley on December 6, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    Excellent points. Why be committed to one God? For that matter, why be committed to one spouse? Polygamy is so much more exciting, so is adultery?

    One God, or many gods? No big deal. One woman, or fifty – no big deal. “Diversity” is the usual choice for people who think “commitment” is an obscenity. It’s no coincidence that the Hebrew prophets condemned the worship of other gods and called it “whoring.”

  32. Comment by Marco Bell on December 18, 2013 at 9:00 am

    So, Greg, why is it so hard to believe that large parts of our planet have their own understanding of God?
    I’m not advocating polygamy just because I recognize that there is more than one way to “Heaven”. I’m just stating that diversity is just that, more than one!
    There are drawbacks to ALL religions, just as there are drawbacks to the diversity of humans on the planet. We must all learn to respect each others’ differences, rather than dismiss or reject.
    And I’m not sure if polygamy is for the purpose of having more “fun” or “excitement”?
    I’m a committed husband to my wife, yet it shouldn’t make any difference if we are of differing religions.

  33. Comment by Daisy on December 7, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    @ Adrian,
    Adrian said, “I wouldn’t bet the farm on this very shallow woman and equally shallow man having a marriage that last.”

    Wow. It may not be shallow on her part.

    If anything, it sounds to me like she made a wiser choice than I did: rather than waiting for the mythical, fairy tale Christian Prince Charming preachers tell Christian women to hold out for since their teen years, she realized what nonsense that was, and married a guy she fell in love with, who happened to be a Non Christian.

    It’s so very easy to be dismissive or judgmental towards someone when you yourself are not faced with the same situation, unless you want to tell me you are still never-married and you are over the age of 35? (As I am, I’m a bit over 40.)

  34. Comment by Jeff Gissing on December 2, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    I like quiche.

  35. Comment by Marco Bell on December 3, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    As do I, love quiche.
    Food choices need not be an identifier, but to some, labels help identify differences that are less than desirable.

    I’m sure that most, if not all of us, wish this couple well. I can remember my (Christian) friend marrying a Jew, back in 1978, and you would have thought the world was going to end, by the response of her parents (and many others in our Methodist congregation), but they are still happily married with two grown children, and none worse for it!
    I still find it surprising that even today, there are such stark “rules” for commingling one’s Race, Gender, Religion, Political affiliation, et al.
    Can’t we all just get along?
    “Nobody comes out of this alive!”
    So do good by your fellow man, and live by the Golden Rule. …simple!

  36. Comment by David Christie on December 3, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    Too bad it isn’t that simple.

    There is but one way to God and that is through Christ. We are all fallen souls and need our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus.

    The “be good to everybody” theology won’t get you any closer to God or Heaven than Hitler. In fact, whoever follows the “good guy” theology will be able to yuck it up for eternity with Hitler. (I will assume that Hitler will be in Hell because of his actions. Only God knows his heart and will place him where he needs to be) I can be the absolutely most wonderful and helpful to everyone I meet but will still be damned for eternity if I don’t have a right relationship with God through Christ. God’s law, not my rules or opinion.

    It is true that God is a God of Love, Forgiveness, Mercy, and such. Unfortunately, for ministers like this and other people who are trying to sugar coat the path to God is that He is also a God of Righteousness and Judgement. He determines the path we should follow, not us.

    There are so many red flags about this relationship, it’s almost criminal. The child rearing is the least of the issues and that’s saying something considering children are important to God. This person should step down or be removed. The fact that she did this as a leader of a congregation is appalling. If she felt so strongly about this man, she should have stepped down so that she would have less influence over the congregation from her position. If you are not serious enough about your faith that you would marry someone outside of your faith, then you don’t need to be a leader in either faith. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Your choices have consequences. I pray the consequences of her decision are not eternal for her congregation.

    Now if God truly ordained this marriage, then the above doesn’t matter because He will see that the marriage works.

    Satan’s pew is growing in our churches everyday. When will the church stand up to him?

  37. Comment by Marco Bell on December 15, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    David Christie, I truly believe your understanding of salvation to be personally genuine. And that it will only happen for you the way you (and the Bible) describe it, but you have to realize NOT EVERYBODY is a Christian.
    So to assume that all those that don’t seek God through Jesus, are going to Hell, is just one myopic viewpoint.

    I don’t see where the children in this family will have any difficulty understanding diversity, since they will live it first-hand. They are more important to the species than they are to God, but I’d never speak for God…where ever She is!

  38. Comment by IG okoro on December 4, 2013 at 12:50 am

    what do you expect when anybody who steps into a bible school/seminary becomes a rev, pastor etc even if s/he is the devil himself.
    This emphasis on paper qualification and money void of salvation and spirituality is the problem. you see atheists and ‘unbelieving’ believers on pulpits and in so called Christian schools lecturing and at the same time treating God like a dog.

  39. Comment by Texan by the Grace of God on December 4, 2013 at 1:43 am

    How can this marriage be reconciled? How can two people of different faiths compartmentalize their religion? Their religions while having some similarities are glaringly different. How can a Baptist minister who has studied and knows the Bible marry a man of a completely different religion? She is saved by Jesus Christ and as a Hindu, he is not… Does it not burn in her heart to know that her husband is missing out knowing Jesus Christ as Savior? Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life – apart from Him we can do nothing.

  40. Comment by Marco Bell on December 6, 2013 at 8:52 am

    TexanbythegraceofGod states: “…How can this marriage be reconciled? How can two people of different faiths compartmentalize their religion…?”

    I used to wonder the same thing about the marriage of James Carville to Mary Matlin (sp?) How can two individuals with such diametrically opposing political perspectives be a happily married couple?

    I think it is just like two individuals who speak different languages. They eventually begin to learn more about the others’, and (hopefully) improve communication. What more is necessary?
    Oh, wait! There will be those of all faiths that tell me that “There is only ONE way to God!” And they will proclaim that theirs’ alone, is IT!
    That is full frontal arrogance!
    I pray this young married couple continues in good health, and harmony.

  41. Comment by Richie Conwy on December 6, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    How is that arrogance to preach that there is one way to God? Especially considering Jesus proclaimed that no one goes to the Father but through him in John 14:6.

    Here’s the issue- all religions can’t all be correct considering that all religions point to not only a different God (who He or she is, what God’s character is like, if there are multiple or one), but also a different will of how mankind is supposed to live. It is as if you ask someone how to get to Los Angeles, and one person says you go South 100 miles and the other says you go North 5 miles. You will end up in two totally different locations, and to say that both are correct is pure ridiculousness.

  42. Comment by Marco Bell on December 9, 2013 at 8:25 am

    My point regarding arrogance is to illustrate that among all of the world’s religions, why is it that each will fight to their death to prove that “theirs” alone, is the ONLY path to God?
    Sure, YOU and many others believe that if Jesus “said” it, it MUST be true! That takes no consideration to the fact that the Disciples/Prophets wrote their interpretations of what they remember hearing Jesus say. That doesn’t cut the test of absolute fact. One must consider all ancient texts to have some fallibility, simply for the fact that they were composed by man, and we all know how devious MAN can be!
    Amen! (Darn! There’s that masculine suffix again!)

    My point is, with each religion vying for supremacy, there isn’t any room for nuances… much less people of different tribes!

  43. Comment by Marco Bell on December 9, 2013 at 8:59 am

    Richie, You have set yourself up.
    To your point about asking someone for directions to Los Angeles… Let’s say that you want to take the expressway, that might be five miles to the North. There will be many who wish to take the scenic route that lies one hundred miles to the South.
    If this Life is anything, it is diverse, and for that, one must decide whether the directions dictated by a person/group/religion are best for the desired results.
    We will all make wrong choices at some point, but that is expected if you’re going any distance. There is many more than ONE way of getting to where you’re going.
    It’s the journey, more than the destination!
    Safe travels my friend!

  44. Comment by Dan Horsley on December 10, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    “It’s the journey more than the destination.”

    One of the supreme cliches out of the “spiritual but not religious” playbook. That kind of fluff works great for the shallow types who think “spirituality” is like a drug, just another way of getting a buzz. For people who believe God exists and want to be in sync with him, that “it’s the journey” stuff is pure junior high stuff.

    Not surprising, coming from someone who regards visits to nudist camps as something worth bragging about. I wish all people like that would just live in California and not clutter up America with their foolishness.

  45. Comment by Kay Glines on December 15, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    I think anyone who follows politics knows exactly why Carville and Matlin manage to stay married – their politics is “for hire,” and they say what their bosses bid them say. I doubt either of them has any convictions, but if I were guessing I’d say that Matlin, hired as a “conservative,” is a closet liberal, so she and her obnoxious husband are on the same page. If this Baptist woman and her Hindu husband are like Carville and Matlin, there will be no differences to overcome, since neither of them has any convictions. Two agnostics ought to get along great.

  46. Comment by Daisy on December 7, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    @ Texan By Grace of God, said,
    ” Does it not burn in her heart to know that her husband is missing out knowing Jesus Christ as Savior? ”

    No, when you still find yourself single in your late 30s or older, and the godly, Christian spouse you were assured would be yours by preachers and Christian parents since Sunday School in your pre teen years, you get to the point where the guy’s religious beliefs become moot.

    I’d rather be married to a loving, nice atheist guy now than to still be single, in other words.

    See also my other posts on here where I pointed out that I have seen many news stories about Christian married men (some who work as preachers) who have been arrested for child fondling, spousal abuse, spousal murder, and I’ve seen a story about one such guy who broke into a church member’s house to steal her prescription drugs.

    Porn addiction among Christian male, married preachers is through the roof. Divorce rates among Christians are really high. There was a Baptist preacher who cops picked up for being a serial killer (I think he committed suicide in his jail cell).

    As long as the Hindu guy in this story is not abusing his wife or anyone else, is not breaking into people’s homes and stealing from them, and is not a serial killer, sounds like she has a great husband, more so than Christian women who married Christian men who turned out to be perverts or abusive.

  47. Comment by became_a_baptist_when_the_umc_rejected_salvation on December 4, 2013 at 8:09 am

    When “Christians” read the actual text of the Bible and take it seriously, at its plain word and straightforward meaning, this sorta thing does not happen. So much of cultural Christianity is ignorant of the Bible, ignorant of the supernatural claims of the Bible (or rejects them) and substitutes a social gospel of being nice and doing good things for your neighbor. Any flippin’ atheist can be nice and do good neighborly deeds. A real Christian must do this AND, amongst other things, recognize the exclusive aspects of Christianity.

  48. Comment by Greg Paley on December 6, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    Wow, another ex-UM. I think at this point you guys outnumber the ones who are still UMs. Don’t blame you a bit! Don’t stay in any church where you don’t find God.

  49. Comment by Daisy on December 7, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    @ Became a Baptist when, said,

    “Any flippin’ atheist can be nice and do good neighborly deeds.”

    Precisely! Which is why marrying a Non Christian is just as safe and viable an option for an unmarried Christian woman who is over 35 years of age who desires marriage.

    The Christian spouses we godly, single Christian women were promised by Christian culture, preachers, parents, churches, and which the Bible itself alludes to (the Bible tells us to pray for whatever we need/want, and God will grant it), never did show up.

    So, at this point, I am totally fine with dating and marrying an atheist, since they are no worse than your typical Christian male.

    Can’t be any worse than all the online stories I read of Christian married preachers who get sent to jail for child molestation, beating their wives, or all the stores on “The Christian Post” about the rampant porn addiction going on among married Christian men.

  50. Comment by Fred Eaker on December 4, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Is it possible for two Christians to be unequally yoked?

  51. Comment by Jeff Gissing on December 5, 2013 at 6:40 am

    Great question. Interested to hear others’ thoughts.

  52. Comment by Donnie on December 9, 2013 at 9:58 am

    Sure. There are nominal Christians and there are Christians who are on fire. Usually if one marries the other, the one on fire is extinguished. I’ve never known a situation that was the other way around, sadly.

  53. Comment by Fred Eaker on December 9, 2013 at 10:41 am

    Thanks Donnie. If it is possible for an enthusiastic Christian to become less so by the influence of a nominal Christian, then is it not possible that a practitioner of another faith could influence a Christian to become more enthusiastic?

    In other words, if unequally yoked relationships exist in Christian relationships, isn’t it possible for an equally yoked interfaith relationships to exist?

    My point here is that we have to define “equally yoked” to mean something more than mere belief in Christ. Belief is not binary, belief can be very deep. Dana and I like to say, “It’s not about sharing the same faith, it’s about sharing deep faith.”

  54. Comment by Greg Paley on December 6, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    When actress Marilyn Monroe married playwright Arthur Miller, who was Jewish, she had to convert to Judaism. Her “conversion” took the form of a couple of conversations with a liberal rabbi. Monroe had only slightly less knowledge of her “Jewishness” than did Miller himself, since neither had any real interest in religion. The same goes for this “inter-faith” marriage. When “faith” is almost non-existent, what difference does it make anyway? You won’t ever fight over religion if neither of you has one.

  55. Comment by Acintyabedhabedhadasa on December 7, 2013 at 9:10 am

    Hari Bol, all glory to Srila Prabhupada. I too am taken aback by this wanton display of syncretism. What will the couple do when he tries to explain to their children that Jesus is, at most, a shaktyaveshavatar, while she insists that on the contrary, Jesus (and not Lord Krishna!) is the Supreme Personality of Godhead? The Baptists do not believe in dancing, unlike devotees of Krishna Consciousness. And what if she demands more than three occasions of sexual intercourse per month, as I have heard wanton Baptist girls often do? Clearly this relationship can never work, and they are both destined to become Unitarians or something, and afterwards…either reincarnate among the lower animals, or go to hell, depending on which one turns out to be right.

  56. Comment by Dale on December 7, 2013 at 9:35 am

    And of course the thought never occurred to anybody here that perhaps God knows what He is doing? Seems to me he already “yoked” a believer and non-believer together. Sometimes it takes some folks a while longer to get where they’re headed.Perhaps if everyone would send a little love with their prayers for this couple, ya’ll wouldn’t feel the need to criticize and hate what God is completely capable of handling. Just my thoughts and two cents

  57. Comment by Anthony on December 7, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    She is not a Christian.. Period.. or a baby christian.. Sad to think she is leading others

  58. Comment by Daisy on December 7, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    I was a Christian since childhood. I find myself still not married in my early 40s. I had hoped and expected to be married by now.

    I was told if I simply trusted in Jesus for a spouse, prayed, waited, and it was implied by Christian speakers and in Christian books, that if I did not fornicate, God would send me a godly, Christian spouse.

    And let me repeat, though I did all those things (prayed, waited, tried dating sites, stayed sexually pure): I am still single in my 40s.

    I frequently see story after story online, in both Christian sources and secular ones, of Christian men (some are even preachers) who were arrested for spousal abuse, child abuse, child molestation, and article after article about high porn usage rates among married Christian men.

    I had the opportunity to date, and who knows, maybe even marry had things gone well, a couple of great guys when I was in my twenties, but so seriously did I take the American Christian interpretation of “don’t be yoked to an unbeliever” to mean that one should not marry a Non Christian, that the moment I found out those men were Non Christians, I broke up with them. I now totally regret this.

    I have heard similar stories from Christians lately, from single women who are in their mid 30s and older, who had chances at marriage, but passed them up because the male in question was a Non Christian.

    Those women, like me, now regret it. I now wish I had married a decent Non Christian guy than still find myself single at age 40 something.

    American Christians, the Baptists and evangelicals especially, are so focused on the nuclear family and marriage and children, that they make no effort at all to meet the needs of unmarried, celibate, virgin adults who are over 30 years of age.

    In some cases, it’s because most Christians assume nobody can be a virgin past age 30; they incorrectly assume nobody is strong or disciplined enough to practice self control past their mid 20s.

    So here I am, an unmarried virgin at 40 something, and churches ignore me, to cater to the married with children couples. I stopped going to church as a result of that, and due to a few other reasons.

    It’s oh- so- easy for married Christians to parrot at singles past age 30 who desire marriage to “not marry a Non Christian, you know, that be not yoked stuff” when you yourself are married, you have companionship, and are getting your sexual needs meet (unless you’re in a sexless marriage – but you at least have companionship).

    I have decided in the last couple of years that if I want to get married, I have to jettision and reject the supposed prohibition against a Christian marrying a Non Christian.

    I am now open to the possibility of dating and marrying a NonChristian. I have already changed a few of my dating site profiles to check off agnostic, atheist, and other types of people; I no longer just keep ‘Baptist’ or ‘Protestant’ checked alone under “religious compatibility” type sections.

    American evangelicals sit about wondering why Christians don’t marry as much or as young as they use to: huge hint: it’s precisely because of anti-marriage teachings that are counter intuitive, such as telling an unmarried Christian woman that she cannot or should not marry a Non Christian

    And as I said, I have seen many stories of so called “Christian” husbands who beat their wives, or who have affairs, molest kids, etc. I see no advantage in holding out for a Christian guy when they seem no better than some Non Christians.

    Also. Based on most material I have seen, there are simply more Christian single women than there are males. I know from visiting churches, the only men in attendance are ALREADY married.

    If I want a spouse, I cannot find one in the church, which is where my parents told me growing up I should expect to find one. There are no single Christian men past the age of 30 or 40 out there.

    Anyway, the “don’t be yoked to a non believer” view, in regards to marriage, is a reprehensible teaching. It is partially responsible for keeping single Christian women single into their forties. It should be abandoned. I am done with it.

  59. Comment by Marco Bell on December 9, 2013 at 8:35 am

    Good for you Daisy!
    My wife was forty-two when we married. It was her first marriage, my second.
    However, it would have freaked me out to discover that she was a virgin!
    Who wants that? The Bible’s intolerance for being human is definitely a form of Patriarchal control over women, so don’t yoke yourself beyond reason just to satisfy a few men in the pulpit.

    BTW, a Zen approach works well…If you stop looking, it will appear.
    Good luck!

  60. Comment by Donnie on December 9, 2013 at 10:02 am

    Nice way to virgin shame, Marco. Glad to see your tolerance reaches out to everybody.

  61. Comment by Marco Bell on December 10, 2013 at 8:30 am

    There is nothing wrong with being a virgin, and I apologize to Daisy for possibly inferring such.
    My point was to simply assuage any notion that an eventual partner should expect one to be a virgin.
    Sorry, Daisy!

  62. Comment by Dan Horsley on December 10, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    Actually, your whole comment just reeks of “patriarchy.” You apparently see woman as nothing but tools for men’s sexual pleasure. Naturally you would scoff at any woman retaining her virginity. A virgin is not threatening to decent people, she is threatening to promiscuous types who want everyone down at their level. Come on in, the sewer is great for swimming.

  63. Comment by Marco Bell on December 19, 2013 at 8:08 am

    You’re a funny man, Dan Horsley. Many of your comments reek of the sexual subject. Yet this subject is about Love in the agape realm of affection, not the carnal realm.
    And I didn’t visit nudist CAMPS, I lived in a nudist community. You know, a neighborhood with families, businesses, churches, etc.
    You must learn to distinguish between spiritual and sexual. Thank you.

  64. Comment by Jeff Gissing on December 9, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    Daisy – thanks for commenting. You raise some good points that are worth discussing. I’ll come back to them later in the week.

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