A Mixed Marriage

Sep 27th, 2006, in Society, by

An example of an inter-faith marriage.

Winda Handayani is an Indonesian Muslim married to Maarten Hekman, a Dutch (nominally, it seems) Christian. They met over the internet and then in 2001 Hekman came to Indonesia to meet Winda, a Javanese.

Later they decided to get married but the problem of differing religions came up. Winda’s family insisted that the marriage be done according to Islam but Hekman was unwilling to convert and Winda did not believe it right that he should convert just in order to get married. Hekman also accepted that Winda did not wish to convert to Christianity. To get around the problem they underwent a civil, state, marriage only.

A Mixed Marriage
Winda Handayani & Maarten Hekman.

Although they have not yet had children the question of what religious instruction any offspring should receive is something that they have discussed, and disagreed about. Winda wants their children taught Islam, while Hekman believes, in true Dutch secular fashion, that the children should not be raised according to any particular religion, and that later they should be free to choose for themselves.

From Radio Nederland.

52 Comments on “A Mixed Marriage”

  1. Tony says:

    My opinion is that his position on how to raise the children is more respectful (to the children).

  2. Molisan Tono says:

    it should put like this way “A Mixed Up Marriage”

    nice try though… need lot more devotion toward each other. belief is a very critical subject in this kind of marriage. being a wise couple parents is hard role decision too.

    so, my opinion… need more than love and understanding… it’s required something bigger and deeper.

  3. Julita says:

    Very simple. Depending of where they are going to live. Exposed the children to both and see which one they choose.

  4. Salacious Samosa says:

    Chidren are not born with the ability to judge, it is the parents who teach them this. I have long see and heard the ‘We’ll let them decide” p.o.v. And I have many mixed-marriages in my family to provide a testament that this intention does not work. It’s the parents who raise their kids one way or totally confuse them… you therefore should not confuse them with opposing practises, and then expect them to make a descision becuase chances are they will not comit to either. You can’t make them decide between two parents because they love them both.

    Children are not a joke, they are a massive responsibility and ought to be treated as such. I can’t believe this couple didn’t discuss these important matters further and waited until they very last minute to do so.


  5. PerempuanRantau says:

    Hemmm tough issue!!! tough issue πŸ™‚

    Well I happened at this moment marry dutch agnostic man while I’m Christian. So might be not really a good example but let me share what we decided in regards to the kid’s education when it comes to religion. This is definitely one of those main issues that every couple should take time to sit and discuss πŸ™‚ We have spent lots of time to sit and discuss upon. Still we don’t have the right form but hey it is a process πŸ™‚

    First you need to understand that when this kid born, this kid has a multiple heritage. They not raise solely a dutch kid or Indonesian kid. So in that regards, I would say Winda and Hekman should realise that this kid will have different challenges than both of them. Second each should know why they want to raise in particular way. Talk openly with each other all prejudices about each other way of upbringing. When I say that I want our kids raised as a Christian huaaahhh my hubbie was instantly think that I will raise a militant Christian. Those that believe there’s no way other to heaven besides being Christian πŸ™‚ Well I then challenged to think why I really want it in Christian way. Which aspect of Christianity values that I want the kid grow up with. And vice versa with my husband.

    At the end, I put it forward to my husband (along line with Salacious words) that kids are not born with ability to choose. But to learn and later choose therefore I would like to be given an opportunity to introduce the Christianity value that I believe will assist him to be a good and better human as we are the parents. However I think it is important as well to pose faith with logic. As far as the kid can understand of course. My husband in the end able to accept the perspective. So we go with Christian value but if the kid asks is there any other possibility that the world coming from big bang besides from what Genesis said…well we will tell the true from both sides. Not going to push that it is happened within seven days six night πŸ™‚ Instead looking for possible understanding. I think it will enrich our own faith experiences.

    In the end, the concept is to introduce and to give an opportunity to learn. I think the end, we need to realize that children are not ours. They will have their own determination and should make their own decision. So if they in the end choose something different that what expect (in this regards for instance being Catholic, Islam, Agnostic, Atheist, whatever) then it is something that needs to be appreciated. In the end we parents are giving birth but not giving life.
    So I hope Winda and Maarten will keep discussing with cold head about this. There always a solution when both ready to listen and sacrifice πŸ™‚

    Hope it helps.

  6. Maarten says:

    It’s funny to be the subject of discussion without knowing it. I am Maarten Heckman and I just found this page by chance.

    Patung’s short description “An example of an inter-faith marriage” doesn’t really do justice to our story. As a matter of fact it was my preference to have a marriage according to Islam as of course also the family preferred.

    Because of the complications and the little available time Winda and I together decided to have only a civil marriage ceremony.

    We have been talking about religion from the moment we met. It wasn’t something that “came up” when we decided to marry. Although we have both been raised in different traditions, we feel the same about many things. To mention some: the most important is what you feel in your heart and what kind of person you really are; religion is a personal thing and people should let eachother free in the way they experience it; there is more than enough common ground and shared values in both Islam and Christianity.

    The commenters above have different “styles”. Some give well meant advise or share their experience and thoughts. To them I say thank you. Others judge and presume. To them I say who are you to judge? better take a critical look at yourself and no thank you.

  7. mingo says:

    WHY OH WHY must children be taught any religion at all. Let them grow up and chose for them selves, This sort of sh*t gets to me. Why is the world so preoccupied with religion, Let the kids be kids just enjoy life, If in future they choose to corrupt their lives with one of the many religions, let them, it will be their choice.

    And just for the record, I am not a fanatic anti Muslim, my wife is a very staunch Muslim Indonesian lady, I respect and love her, Our difference of opinion over religion does not rule our lives, our respect for each others thoughts are what get us through, my only regret is that their are not many more Muslim people like her

  8. Janma says:

    I have five children and all were brought up in situations that abounded in different religions and beliefs. I taught them to respect other people and I taught them about the different religions in the world but from an intellectual standpoint, as you would teach history, not from a religious or inspirational standpoint.
    I taught them how to make informed choices.
    Give them the tools to make an informed choice, don’t take away their right to choose or their right to know the full information, pro’s and cons etc of various religions.
    Result? They respect all religions and don’t follow any of them.
    Just how I wanted it.

  9. mingo says:

    Well so far Janma that makes two of us who think that our future generations should stand up and think for them selves and not be coherced or indoctrinated into some form of beleif, ARE THERE ANY MORE BRAVE SOULS OUT THERE WHO WILL SPEAK UP AGAINST THE ” NORM ”

  10. Sputjam says:

    Religion was not part of God’s messages in the koran.
    The main message was to put your trust in God and do good and righteous deeds.
    Present day islamic religionist are pagans, worshipping/serving a stone in mecca.
    You will be judged by your deeds alone. Not the number of times you worship/number of days you fast/amount of money you donated to mosques.
    These messages have been neglected by present day Muslims.
    Pharoah dominated a religion whereby taxes were collected for their religion for the benefit of preists.
    None of God’s messengers asked for any money, be they Mohamed, Jesus, moses or abraham.
    so think hard and ask yourself, if you are currently observing all the rituals in the islamic faith, if you are on the right path. The koran warns mankind about priesthood. They will mislead. so beware.

  11. mingo says:

    EEERRRRR Sputjam, What the hell has that got ot do with mixed marriages

  12. Tuan says:

    I have to say that mixed religion marriages are very difficult to balance and takes a toll on children. Granted there are few exceptions but in general they are difficult. I am an American Indonesian Muslim and I have seen my share of mixed religion marriages between Jews and Christians, Christians and Hindus, and however you want to mix it up. The reality is what Tono said, you can either raise your children one way or raise them confused. Maybe in a “perfect world” you can have your children to decide and all that but unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world and there is a likely chance that children will not choose either. The latter I have seen quite often.

  13. peter says:

    I wonder how happy or successful the marriage will be if her parents don’t get along with him…………

    Are marriages strongly affected by such external considerations?

  14. lucia says:

    an old friend of mine came from mixed family. Her dad is muslim and her mom is catholic. She and her sisters were exposed to both and in the end chose to be catholic. Her mom still woke up early in the morning during fasting period to accompany her husband prepare for the fast. And the whole family celebrates Christmas together. That couple is probably the happiest mixed couple I’ve ever seen so far. I hope this couple can be as happy too πŸ™‚

  15. Rob says:

    Any relationship depends on the ability to compromise and to work together.

    External family pressures exist and might not only be religious based.

    Relationships also rely on respect and tolerance of difference. I think kids should be exposed to all religions and learn about all religions as they should also be taught to respect cultural differences. A religion is such a personal choice and people find “god” in so many different ways and in so many different places. The point is you cannot force a child to beleive in a certain God. The child grows up and they ultimately, as adults, choose for themselves.

    In Indonesia the whole system is pre-supposed on family harmony being invested in sharing a common religion. If this was / is not the case then why the insistence on both parties having the same religion?

    Happiness in marriage is not about religion but enjoying the small things that a couple shares, and shares quite often to the exclusion of others!

    Good weekend to all!

  16. Lilu says:

    In my opinion, if the woman is the muslim one it is more likely to work but not the otherway around. My sister (used to be Christian) married to a muslim guy, but now she convert to Muslim. Before they got married he was very kind and gentle. But now they married he is very strick and jelous husband, she even think of separation but they have 3 children.

  17. timbuktu says:

    Christianity (both Trinitarian and Unitarian) teaches Jesus to be Divine and to have died on the Cross as atonement for mankind’s sins (for the feminists I am prepared to say womankind’s sins).

    Christians also believe in the Old Testament according to whichthe prophet Lut commits incest with his daughters under the influence of alcohol. They believe that G_d was defeated by one of the prophets in a wrestling match, and many other demeaning things about G_d and the prophets. They believe that G_d created the world in six days and rested on the seventh.

    Islam teaches God as One indivisible whole without any weaknesses (eg. family or wrestling with His creation), and One who is the most powerful. Islam teaches that G_d does not sleep or rest.

    Both Christianity and Islam teach that those who are not saved according to their teachings are going to Hell.

    I do not see how one can have intimate (read sexual) relations with someone who is going to Hell according to his/her beliefs. If that person does not believe in saving, then he/she has invented another religion.

    I do not see how one expects/hopes to go to Heaven, but allows one’s children to chose to chose Hell by accepting the other parent’s religion.

    Such a marriage would indeed be mixed-up marriage.

  18. mingo says:

    Timbuktu, You are heading of on a tangent there, What has this got to do with mixed marriages, Religion is a state of mind and not a physical endownment or disability.There are always experts on the plus,s and minus,s on the question of mixed marriages, however we do not hear from many in this forum, who are actually experianceing the ups and appariently the many downs of a mixed marriage. The reason behind this is that these couples have reconciled there so called religious differences and are liveing in marital bliss and harmony and cannot give a damm what others think of there so called spiral downwards to eternal dammnation

  19. timbuktu says:

    mingo, it will look off the tangent to you unless you step out of the individual-centric universe that we have been fed to believe is natural.

    Religion is not concerned with just this world, it is largely concerned with the Hereafter, to be more precise, about going to Heaven or Hell.

    Now one tries to provide the best education and training for one’s children, one tries to accumulate wealth for them, so that they live productive, fulfilling and comfortable lives.

    Shouldn’t one be concerned with their well-being in the Hereafter?

  20. mingo says:

    One must firstly believe in the concept of the here after. Heaven and hell are part of the religious culture fed down through the ages to terrorise and or reward a person if they were to follow and believe in this or that religion. For eg. Take the Catholic Inquisition. They burned people at the stake for questioning the existance of Jesus Christ. THEY WERE SENT TO HELL. now take these muslim suicide bombers,THEY WILL GO TO HEAVEN IN THE COMPANY OF A CERTAIN NUMBER OF VIRGINS.

    As far as I am concerned people who believe in some sort of god or the concept of heaven and hell are weak and insecure and do not have the courage or the intestinal fortatude to stand on their own feet and face the world but must believe in some divine entity who will save them and lead them by the hand through their miserable existance

  21. timbuktu says:

    mingo dear. This is a story about mixed-faith marriages. Not about no-faith

  22. hariyangindah says:

    The best way is just not to teach any religion at all, because religions are the sources of miseries in the universe. The best thing to teach to the children is to be aware about oneself, about the creatures around us (particularly human beings), and about the environment, the universe. Only then peace will come to this universe.

  23. dhea says:

    Quote Janma
    I taught them to respect other people and I taught them about the different religions in the world but from an intellectual standpoint, as you would teach history, not from a religious or inspirational standpoint.
    I taught them how to make informed choices.
    Give them the tools to make an informed choice, don’t take away their right to choose or their right to know the full information, pro’s and cons etc of various religions.
    Result? They respect all religions and don’t follow any of them.
    Just how I wanted it.

    Well written and good point as I my self doing the same thing for my children.

  24. Aluang Anak Bayang says:

    @ dhea

    Janma is a lost sheep.

  25. janma says:

    baaa….. you maybe a sheep AA, i’d rather be a goat any day…

    sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell.

  26. schmerly says:

    @ AAB.. I was wondering if you’ve ever had an original thought? you know one of your very own! or is your rhetoric simply from the repetitious brainwashing you’ve had over the years from the local imam, who in turn would have had the same brainwashing as you, it’s a kind of self perpetuating brain disease isn’t it? reducing people to no more than brain dead zombies who actually believe in something that doesn’t exist.

  27. zekky says:

    I was raised as Muslim, my friend was raised a Christian, and we’ve both left our religion. I have other friends who were raised agnostic and atheist but are now more religious, and I know a guy who was ‘born’ Hindu and converted to Islam.

    I agree with the dad, here – a child should be free, because at the end of the day if the child wants to change they’ll change.
    Besides, it’s not like the child will grow up seeing no religion at home.

  28. Farah says:

    uhhh……. this is hard…

    Is just unfair when you have to choose between person that you love so much and the belief that you have for the rest of your life. But thats what life is, its just unfair!

    I don’t know what will i choose if i am in that position. Other side, islam is what i belief, and marrying a guy whos not islam, would be zinah or adultery for the rest of my life. I would be much happier if he convert to my religion.

    On the other hand, i know i want this guy so much, i can’t imagine to live with someone else but him and that i “might” slipped out and instead of avoiding the adultery i would do it with him, out side the marriage it self.. ugghh confusing !

    I just hope if i am on that position, i would be able to choose whats the best for me, not because what my family said, or other people said πŸ™ πŸ™ (hard to do !)

    There’s a lot of consequences in mixed marriage that i could think of. Like i said.. though..tough decision !!
    πŸ™ πŸ™ πŸ™

  29. mingo says:

    Yes Farah it would be hard,,

    Let me think here…….

    Should one, marry a person with whom they have a romantic attachment, Some one who is flesh and blood, some one who will love and cherish them,look after them when they are ill, Support them and laugh with them, some one with whom you can build a life, have children enjoy whatever time you have on earth…

    or not marry and continue beleiving in some idea that there is a god out there who will give one, none of the above but will demand total devotion for the rest of ones life, this god who defies you happiness because you are not of the same beleif.

    the answer is simple follow your heart, and not what others perceive to be the true path for you, Only you can answer that, however, to my mind the answer is simple

  30. Odinius says:

    Religions are all basically saying the same thing anyways…

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