Interfaith marriage counseling: Perspectives and practices among Christian Ministers
Members of the clergy provide a unique perspective to couples entering pre-marital counseling. The basis for most insights provided by the counseling is derived from church policies and procedures as well as personal and professional opinions and experience. When individuals in a relationship come from different faiths, guidelines and policy may differ or may even be contradictory, and these differences may have a direct effect on the delivery, substance, and outcome of premarital counseling. These differences may thus have an indirect effect on the effectiveness of the premarital preparation. The purpose of this study is to explore and identify differences among clergy/ministers in their practices and beliefs concerning the counseling of couples composed of one Christian and one non-Christian as well as demonstrate how those in interfaith marriages are different than couples from different Christian traditions. More specifically, the study will examine the degree to which religious policies and procedures as well as clergy’s own personal and professional opinions and empathy affect the challenge to accommodate interfaith couples. The study will also examine the difficulties that occur when a minister must serve in a religious advisory role given their individual stance on religious intermarriage.