Religion: a dividing force in marriage? | Sunday Observer

Religion: a dividing force in marriage?

“Love does not claim possession, but gives freedom “ - Rabindranath Tagore

Having concluded the blissful concoctions of Valentine’s Day, many young souls are either falling in love or falling apart! Others have decided to love their I-Phones. A steadfast romance is a long journey laden with challenges, from every side: yourself, your soul mates parents, your parents and the consistent barking of her neighbour’s dog that has hysterical outbursts when you visit. Alas ye good lads and lasses, the courting process is something akin to a hunt. It must be a formulated strategy (anyone read the Art of War by Sun Tzu?).

Some blindly fall in love, gosh the bright colours that some women wear will cause you to experience temporary vision impairment. The issue of “loving” has been deliberated and debated from the aisles of cathedrals, the lobby of 5 star hotels with instrumentals of Richard Clyderman in the background to the crowded seats of Galle Road buses. So it’s a fundamental liberty that everyone should fall in love, but how many sustain their romantic flings beyond marriage?

It is a fact that divorce and separation are making significant momentum these days, globally. Makes you wonder if the stage of romance was based on love or lust? Marriage counselors will say that people separate for an assortment of reasons, under stressful situations. Having done some personal research yours truly was shocked to find that one major cause for marriage issues is Religion. Does not religion teach tolerance, forgiveness and hope? So where did we go wrong? Is this an Asian cultural saga dancing out to the tunes of Miley Cyrus?

Religion is rife with speculation is Sri Lanka today. Yes it’s nice to hold hands under the Lion flag and sustain the One Nation feeling, but when it comes to a relationship whose religion is more tolerant? We are an ancient people with diverse ethnic cultures. It is our glorious heritage, yet how does this translate in today’s society? Is religion a golden dagger supernaturally creating a black scar among young couples in love? Of course in this vibrant democracy we all have the liberty to follow our interpretation of divine deity.

For myself I do believe in God who is the primary source of love, who manifested this love through the death of his son Jesus for the remission of our sins and salvation. In vintage Ceylon people strongly embraced a matrimonial prospect that “matched” their family, education, income levels and religious beliefs. Ah, we cannot ignore the black demon of caste who continues to separate our people (caste is akin to a form of social terrorism).

Divided from within

Our island is influenced by 4 major religions. Within this realm there is tenacious intolerance, especially in marriage. I have seen Christian weddings where the couple is from different churches, so the “holy battle” begins in which church they should get married in? The battle to select which priest should baptize the child? Now the “war” escalates if their child should go to a Catholic or Anglican school? I’ve been part of Hindu weddings where debates are held on following Jaffna or Batticaloa wedding rites. My close friends have wanted me to mediate with their Buddhist parents as to whether the bride should wear Kandyan Sinhalese or modern designer sari. It was sad to see Muslim parents reject partners for their children from the Malay community. So when will this nonsense cease?

Religion overpowering love

Of course married life needs forecasting, commitment and planning. It would be super if we can all find the “right” person from within our own spiritual clan. Yet I have seen couples from inter- religious marriages living productive lives (I am not encouraging that, but at least let good people come together). So are today’s young folk looking for their soulmate in the temple, kovil, mosque or church? Or does Facebook give you a better choice? Religion (deeper spiritual understanding) is vital for human survival, man is a spiritual being. Yet has religion become a manifesting force in society that it paves way for odium and division? Teen suicide is on the rise from failed hunts, and often from rejection based on religious intolerance, caste and social status.

It is time we began to understand and respect every religion, whilst faithfully following ours. A concluding tip to young lovers - if you live your life showing love and concern for your partner at all times, they will see it as a strong reflection of your religious beliefs and embrace it with time, I have witnessed this. Love the other person not for who they are, but for how they influence your life and embellish you with joy. That is the hallmark of a mature wholesome human.