Nowadays rapidly changing the world sets new opportunities and challenges in the field of intercultural communication. One of them is a growing number of interfaith marriages integrating people from different countries, having different cultures and religions. This essay focuses on the analysis of this phenomenon based on the article by Jennifer Miller that was posted in the New York Times in 2016. At that, the essay aims at considering the media role in the intercultural dialogue.
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Analysis of Interfaith Marriages
The interfaith marriages reflect various ethnic-social and religious processes. Their study promotes a better understanding of the patterns and consequences of this phenomenon. In particular, it helps to resolve the communication problems within intercultural families as well as those on a global scale. The article reveals several problems associated with interfaith marriages: the difference between the territorial and religious integrity makes such relationships quite complex as the two individuals have to take into account the rules and traditions of two societies. This situation is characterized by two key points.
Firstly, interfaith marriages are complicated by citizenship and other terms of legal norms. Also, the constant compliance with religious guidelines limits the actions of spouses making their life narrower in the scope of religious compliance. Secondly, it should be noted that the social and personal characteristics of the person tend to depend on their religious beliefs which become evident in many aspects in the framework of marriage.
For example, the very process of marriage, other people’s attitudes, and other social issues affect interfaith relationships. The difference in religious affiliation affects spouses psychologically, culturally, and morally as well as impacts their social environment (Miller, 2016). In particular, individual values, norms, attitudes, perceptions, and behavior patterns specific to a certain religion are reflected in the relations between spouses in interethnic marriages.
Differences in religious beliefs and attitudes inherent in the marital relationships depend on the degree of religiosity of spouses along with the internal state of the faith of each of them. Considering religion as a means of satisfying the spiritual needs of the individual, it is necessary to consider both spouses in marital union and accept the partner’s faith respectfully (Miller, 2016). I believe that relationships and communication in the family depend on its members. Although interfaith marriages can present some difficulties, common ground can be achieved by understanding and love among its members.
In turn, the above statement assumes that religious traditions, customs, and culture of both partners should be supported. It is possible to guess that interfaith marriage can change the national and cultural beginnings of the spouses. By making mutual concessions in the identification of religious problems through specific socio-due actions, the couple can ensure healthy marital relationships.
There are various organizations providing support for interfaith marriages. They help to organize the marriage, honeymoon, and other issues related to the life of a couple with different religious affiliations. For example, the Interfaith Community or the Interfaith Union located in New York offers services and workshops to make the life of the interfaith couples easier (Miller, 2016). Moreover, some of these organizations provide educational programs for children. This measure helps to ensure equal understanding of both religions in the family so that everyone would feel comfortable.
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In the context of culture and communication theories, it is possible to consider the chosen topic within the cross-cultural communication theory. According to the above theory, culture is a way of thinking inherent in every person. The cultural (religious) understanding of the world impacts the style of communication causing both positive and negative points in behavior and way of speaking.
Therefore, communication is an essential part of human life, and, hence, part of the culture. Underlining the importance of the first, plenty of researchers liken religion to communication. Hall, a prominent American psychologist and author of several works on intercultural communication, argues that culture and communication are identical concepts. Based on this, many Western scholars figuratively represent culture in the form of an iceberg the base of which is composed of the cultural values and norms, and the apex is the behavior of a person based on them that reflects dealing with other people.
Speaking of the context of intercultural communication, it is significant to point out that information constituting the content of the communication process is in close relation with the cultural view of the world held by each partner. Taken together, the cultural (religious) picture of the world and communicative information form the context of the communication process. At that, there is an internal context and external context.
A set of background knowledge, values, cultural identity, and the individual characteristics of the person act as an internal context. This also can be attributed to the attitude with which the communicant comes to communication. The external context of the communication includes time, the scope, and conditions of the communicative process. Also, the place of communication is an important factor that defines the background of communication.
Role of Media in Interfaith Dialogue
To realize the productive intercultural communication, the members of the interfaith marriage should have the intercultural competence that is an ability that allows going beyond one’s religion and acquire the other’s religious beliefs without losing their own religious identity. In this case, the media act as a powerful mediator disclosing the peculiarities of different religions, their traditions, and other peculiarities. One might note plenty of articles and discussions placed in the online environment where everyone is free to learn the information.
Likewise a mirror, media is to fully reflect all the processes and trends occurring in society related to the religious sphere. Most of the media tend to objectivity, impartially covering the issues of interfaith relations, participating in the formation of public opinion towards them, and exerting an increasing influence on the internal policy of the state. They contribute to the preservation of stable and tolerant interethnic and interfaith relations, searching for mutually acceptable compromises, dialogue, and consolidation of the society.
In a democratic society, the media realizes the right of citizens to freedom of speech and religious freedom. At the same time, the media are guided by the principle of political correctness to guarantee the possibility of expression without violating the rights and dignity of the others. Based on the principle of political correctness, the media can prevent aggression and violence and adopt the respect for individual rights, morality, and mutual trust.
In the face of increasing social mobility, the rapidly changing world promotes interaction between people with different religious beliefs. The interfaith marriages extend the capabilities of each person in building a happy marital life but, at the same time, carry the difficulties caused by differences in worldview, and cultural and social norms. Therefore, it is of great importance to study interfaith marriages in detail.
Miller, J. (2016). Finding common ground in interfaith marriage. Web.