Many of life’s important decisions relate to the family and marriage. But do there exist universal family values that cross religion and culture? The religious panel gives an idea of how to guide about marriage and family in Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
William Salicath, constitutional parish priest, Haslev Church
Marriage has a different meaning in protestant context than in many other religions because we do not regard the wedding as a sacrament. The wedding ceremony does not have much to do with God, but the actual ritual is made such that the priest vier purely legally and afterwards gives an ecclesiastical blessing.
I do not think it’s the role of the priest to spell out correctly and wrong in marriage and family counseling. I can put opportunities in front of people, but always point out that it’s not just about choices and decisions. With an ecclesiastical word, it’s about the spirit we do. Infidelity is a bad thing, but it can stand in different light in different situations.
As a priest, I do not emphasize the concrete actions, but on the other hand, I want to help wake the spirit of people so that they can make the decisions that are right for them regarding the great choices in life.
Of course there are decisions that are consistently correct or incorrect. But as a starting point, I do not want to go in as someone who does not mind saying that they should do one thing or the other. The gospel is not about what you do, but how you do it.
The family and family ties are key elements of Islam. Much of my advice is about strengthening a marriage, raising their children and having a healthy sexual life. The family is important because our family members are the primary caregivers.
In South Africa, we have a well-institutionalized health service, where the state also supports and cares when you get sick, for example. But there is still a very important aspect that the family may be present and provide support.
At the same time, it is important to balance the individual’s independence towards God and the outside world. As a Muslim, you sometimes have to fight in the gray zone between commitments for the family and individual responsibility.
I would like to help the young people. In any case, imbalances occur, so the family and family relationships will fill too much. At worst, you can lose both your family and yourself. Faith can help solve this problem and create the right balance.
To me, marriage is about building a house. Love is one of the values and feelings that a house may or must be built upon, but that’s not the whole starting point. Sometimes I feel that love is set too high on a pedestal. Not only in the western world.
The number of divorces shows that we misinterpret the idea of the marriage and marriage significance. Emphasis is placed on romance. In Denmark, people expect to get married until they have lived together for many years, have children and tried everything. Nevertheless, many become divorced, even though they think they have sanctified themselves. It is my proof that the marriage is wrong.
First, you can not make the decision and when you finally do, it’s not a final decision. I think it’s important to be aware of these things when choosing to marry. Of course, there may be a point where it will be too much. No choice is completely safe, but the number of divorces shows that we perceive the marriage in a wrong way.