Q & R: Religion and Marriage
Here's the Q:
I'm a fan of your works. I'm a student pastor and assistant youth pastor (part timer) from [Asia]. I'm under thirty years old. I read some of your books, and as a young man who grows and educates in evangelical tradition, your works are very intriguing to me. It has made me question many times about what I believe and honestly as I join with your works and emergent church movement, the way I think about Church, community, other faith, live in diversity and culture have shifted.
I serve in the one of evangelical church in [a major Asian city], and I know sometimes it's hard to me share with people here about what I'm studying and believing right now.
I choose to be calm and share just a little thing about it to the young people whom I serve, until I meet a girl whom I love and plan to get married soon, I can't be just calm, I told to them what I believe that It is possible for an evangelical get married and live with a girl who comes from catholic tradition.
My future wife comes from Catholic church, and I don't mind about it, cause I really like to live in diversity. I don't see Catholic as a different religion, but Christian church here think that they are different. I don't like "the category" anymore as my fellow christian do in here. My future wife and I commit to learn together about faith and actually I never ask her to change from her believe. I want to make a good conversation with her in our diversities. I'm okay with this. Even I encourage her to be sure about what she believe an ask many question like I do.
But it's not easy for me when I want to explain to my fellow christians, and we don't have a non-denominational church in Indonesia.
I plan to move from the church that I serve right now, and try to find the new community with my future wife.
Because it's impossible to do my wedding ceremony here.
I know you had some experience, that your wife comes from catholic tradition, and I know you know better about how to live in diversity.
I need your help in this confused situation. I want to ask you some questions:
1) What is your opinion about my situation? Should I quit from my ministry here or what?
2) How should I live in diversity in my marriage to come?
Maybe there is some chapters from your books that can help me.
I don't know you will answer me or no. But I really need your advice.
Thanks Mr. Brian for read my email.
Here's the R:
Thanks so much for writing. I'm so glad to know you found my books helpful. My newest book is especially focused on the issues of religious identity and diversity. It would be especially interesting, I think, for someone living in a religiously diverse country like yours, where Christians of any sort are a minority. I think you would find it helpful - but I don't know if it's hard to get in your country.
Really, I'm sure you know better than I how to live in diversity!
As I read your email, two things come to mind. I really don't have any "moral" guidance to offer you (in terms of right and wrong), but do have some pastoral guidance.
First, all of life is full of trade-offs. If we say yes to one opportunity, it closes the door for other opportunities. So - marrying your Catholic fiancee will close doors to some jobs in some churches. But it will obviously bring other joys and experiences that are so important to you that you will gladly close the door on your current job.
Second, I think the biggest difference among Christians of the future won't be the difference between Catholic and Protestant or charismatic and non-charismatic or liberal or conservative. I think the biggest difference will be between those who have a strong/hostile identity, those who have a weak/tolerant identity, and those who seek a strong/benevolent identity. That's one of the core ideas of the new book - and I can tell that you are seeking the third kind of identity. Please know I'm praying for you today!