Three Things to Consider Before Converting to a New Religion for Your Spouse
Before you make a leap of faith, our experts suggest you ask yourself these questions.
Whether or not you grew up in a religious household, converting to a new religion for your soon-to-be spouse is not something to be taken lightly. It's a big commitment, and one that you should wholeheartedly be ready for. That's why we talked to two experts—Amy Michelle DeBaets, an ethics professor with a PhD in religion, and Steve Kurniawan, a practicing preacher and theologian who holds a degree in Christian theology—to find out what you should consider before converting to a new religion in the name of love.
How do you feel about your current faith?
DeBaets says to consider how attached you feel to your current faith. Would you miss your existing religious practices? Or does your future spouse's religion follow a similar path? She suggests making sure you have a very strong understanding of your new community and their practices so you can understand how much it will differ from your current practices. Kurniawan agrees, and further suggests that you explore what your new faith may ask of you that your previous faith did not. "You'll have to really understand the core values of the new religion, and you'll need to actually have the faith," he explains. If their beliefs do not align with your own, it stands to reason that this will eventually become a problem.
Can you make a lifetime commitment to your new faith?
"Before converting, understand the main obligations of being a part of this new religious community." DeBaets says. "Consider how active you plan to be in the community and what you will be expected to do, including particular practices you will be expected to engage in, not just during the conversion process, but long-term." Different religious communities have different expectations around things like prayer or meditation, attendance at religious services, fasting, pilgrimage, monetary donation, and initiation rituals for children and other new members of the community. Make sure you are ready to commit to all of this, not just for the wedding, but for a lifetime.
Ask yourself if you have any hesitations?
Do you have any moral or spiritual qualms surrounding the beliefs and practices of your new community, or do you feel a strong attachment to your existing faith that makes you pause when thinking about leaving it behind? If you have any hesitations, DeBaets says, you may not be ready to convert. Additionally, she suggests you consider how you feel about what will be asked of you during the conversion process. If any of it makes you uncomfortable, you may want to consider other options.
Kurniawan is in agreement, saying that the commitments you make under your new faith will be long-term, lifetime promises. If you are not sure you can commit to them, or if you feel that you are lacking the faith, he suggests waiting to convert until you are fully ready to commit.