More on Peoplehood and Adoption: Intermarriage

Earlier I wrote about the obligation on Gentile Christians to think of Jews with the love and respect due to in-laws (family of the Bridegroom). What about the obligations of Jewish Christians – married into the Church – in this family relationship? Today I’ll look at their role with respect to Gentiles, and after the weekend try to tackle what it might be with respect to Jews.

Here are a couple of contexts in which Jewish Christians must choose where they stand in Gentile society. One is choosing a denomination – should one go with one of the historic churches or join a Messianic congregation, which seems so much more Jew-friendly? This is a really important topic, and I will give it justice in a later post.  

Another context is how Jewish Christians think about intermarriage (apparently this engaged lady can’t help talking about marriage, yet again!). Here’s a curious phenomenon: Jews who become Christian, regardless of the denomination, assimilate. Jews who don’t have a much greater motivation, and opportunity, to continue to marry Jewish. (Actually, many of them assimilate too – apparently over 40% of secular Jews in America intermarry –  but then again, within a few generations we stop calling them Jews.) 

grievance of Rabbi Israel Lau, chief rabbi of Israel, against Jewish convert Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger when the latter came to visit Jerusalem, is that converting to Christianity causes Jews to disappear. It’s true that a branch of the Jewish people as we know it comes to an end with a mixed marriage, and Jewish Christians (including this one) are often concerned about it along with practicing Jews.

But it’s also true that the Jewish people as we know it is by definition only that part of the Jewish people that has not accepted Christ. No one knows eactly how many Jews became Christian since the times of Christ and until today; I suspect that it actually constitutes a respectable percentage of the Jewish people. It’s just that their descendants don’t count when the Jewish people is tallied up. (Which, incidentally, is how the Jewish state today would like to keep it. You can become a citizen of Israel under the Law of Return if you have a single Jewish grandparent, even on the halakhically wrong paternal side, but not if you are a full-blooded Jew who has converted to Christianity – never mind being the descendant of such a convert.)

There is a good reason for a Jewish Christian to marry Jewish: his children will be “Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God” (Romans 9:4-5). They will have enough of a sense of identity to invest in building the Jewish church.

There is also a good reason for a Jewish Christian to intermarry. It’s probably fair to say that most secular Jews intermarry because they rank love for a particular person above their Jewish identity, or because they generally don’t think that Jewish identity is very important. For the Jewish Christian – or at least for me – the deciding factor here is not the supreme importance of romance (which is not to belittle romance), but the adoption of the Gentiles into the Church. Intermarriage is not relinquishing one’s identity as a member of Israel, but placing one’s identity as a member of New Israel above it.

I’d be interested in input from Jewish Christian readers of the blog on this topic.

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About The Groom's Family

I was born in Soviet Russia and grew up in Israel. I was baptized Orthodox Christian in 2006. Today my husband and I live in Northern Virginia. I would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment!
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3 Responses to More on Peoplehood and Adoption: Intermarriage

  1. Lukas Halim says:

    “It’s probably fair to say that most secular Jews intermarry because they rank love for a particular person above their Jewish identity, or because they generally don’t think that Jewish identity is very important. ”
    I don’t think it is anything as complicated as that – I think it is basically a numbers game. There are WAY more Gentile Christians than Jewish Christians, so Jewish Christians are more likely to marry Gentile Christians.

  2. Lukas,

    Well, yes. However, my question is not why are Jews (whether secular or Christian) tempted to marry Gentiles, but how they justify it – what makes them believe that that’s a good and meaningful choice, and not just a choice they make for lack of other options?

  3. Dear Groom’s Family. I very much like your blog! I spun into it from the AHC dialogue regarding Christian Joffson’s input. My father and his mum were Serbian Orthodox til they both converted to Roman Catholicsm when he was 17. My male cousin on my father’s side is a sometime Greek Orthodox. On my father’s side, we are very ecumenical regarding the Great Schism and Protestantism viz a viz Catholicism.
    My mother’s maiden name is Jacob, so much so an arch-typically “Jewish” (read Hebrew) name that when the Nazi ‘s pulled their “Flaming Arrow” coup into Hungary in 1944, they wanted to ship the whole Jacob family to Auswitzch. But her father went to the ancestral family village church in Transylvania and discovered that, by Baptismal records, all their ancestors had been baptized Roman Catholic since the times of St. Stephen of Hungary — a thousand years. So the Nazis could do nothing to us (by their own law, which declared one Jewish if one had even so little as a single Jewish ancestor within 7 generations). I was born in ’48, but by my age of 5, I lived in the shadow of the Holocaust and felt the whole weight of the world on my shoulders from that tender age (a quick read of my URL will show at least the political-economic solutions I propose to end the on-going threat and reality of genocide and abortion).
    Unlike many in AHC, I was raised Roman Catholicly, not Jewishly, tho’ I’ve always had a great love for the Jewish and Hebrew people. At age 9, I made a banner for parochial school which had a Roman Cross growing out from amidst a Star of David, with three leaves stemming from the lower portion of the cross, and rays coming from the crux of the Cross. I was consciously symbolizing “a shoot from the stem of Jesse” and articulating the great unity between Judaism and Catholicism — even before Pope John XXIII ( or was it Vatican II) called Jews “our elder brothers in the faith”; and decades before my mentor in Judaism, Conservative Rabbi Abraham Rose (z”l) taught me the tradition of a long-line of Austro-Polish Rabbis that “Catholicsm is Judaism writ large!”. So my Catholicism has always been very pro-Jewish and Jewishly oriented.
    But despite the fact that there are Messianic Jews of Protestant inspiration (and I’m on JfJ’s and Chosen People’s Ministries mailing lists), Fr. Friedman was very perceptive to call us “Hebrew-Catholics” rather than Jewish Catholics.
    Judaism is a religion — mainly upheld by the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, whereas the Hebrews are a people incoporating also 10 other tribes, many of whose descendants are are no longer Jewish, but Christian or Muslim, or even — with increasing frequency – Hindu or Buddhist. Indeed, there are many indications that the Philastinians are, in their main body, the Ten “Lost” Tribes of the “children of Israel”.
    And this does not include the offspring of the “daughters of Jacob” – or whom a Rabbinical tradition holds there was one twin sister for every “son of Jacob”.
    It is from these “daughters of Jacob” that I believe myself descended – and that I believe that all families with a surname stemming from “Jacob” are also descended.
    In other words, Jewishness is not co-terminus with Hebraism, nor is the Hebrew, or Israelite, people completely or exclusively identified with Jewishness.
    It is well, however, for all people of Hebrew descent to identify with and practice some or all the traits of Judaism, such as abstaining from pork and beef/cow’s milk mixed dishes, or lamb/sheep’s milk mixed dishes (at least until Hashem “extend the borders of the nation a vast extent” [Deuteronomy 12:20 – whereafter we may eat of any type of meat, but without the blood ( hence of meats, fish and fowl of any flavor and texture, manufacture from micro-algae growing in tall unbreakable glass cylinders bubbling even with saline or brackish desert-water, as perfected by the Ben Gurion University of the Negev)], and observing Saturday Sabbath (as well as Resurrection Sunday if they be also Christian) and eruv Shabbes candle-lighting and appropriate Hebrew prayer (“Baruch hatai Adonai…. etc.”).
    Those things and, a Y’shuite Shme, and loyalty to Israel, Zionism, and “the ingathering of the exiles”, and keeping a collection of (in my case, English, French, or Spanish- language) books by Jews about Judaism, plus the 24 books I’ve written over the last 30 years about the global and universal peace and justice process with the Holy Land of Y’shua at Center Stage – is the extent of my Jewishness. So I consider myself a Catholic Jew – or, better, a Hebrew-Catholic – anything by Christian Joffson and Hebrews (or Gentiles) to the contrary notwithstanding.
    Indeed, I hope to marry a Black Lemba Buba Cohenite Jewess from South Africa – a person from among a group of Jews who have the purest gene marker for the Aaronite priesthood, and to baptize/circumcise our son(s) according to what I have proposed in some of my books as a special Rite of Baptism-cum-Circumcision of Hebrew-Catholic boys;: “I baptize the into the Baptism of the Blood of the Circumcision into Adonai’s covenant with Abraham, in the name of Y’shuallah ha-MasiîH [Hebrew-Arabic-Hebrew-Arabic for ‘Jesus-G-d the Anointed Saviour-King’), and I hope to raise all our child(ren) Jewishly at the Hebrew Academy of Cleveland and at least one son to be the first (or a) married priest-rabbi of the proposed Hebrew-Catholic Ordinariate – with the added bonus and magnet to the Lubavitch and other observant Jews that he is, by maternal descent, of the Aaronite priesthood, and by paternal descent, also of the Cohenite priesthood, as “Kuna” is a Magyarization of “Cohen” from the time refugees from the Assyrian conquest of the Northern Kingdom escaped north of the Black Sea and intermarried with the Magyars, who, in the 900’s BC, lived in Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula.

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