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R.R. Reno, a practicing Christian and theology professor at Creighton University, wrote a wonderful essay in Commentary on his intermarriage to a religiously observant Jewish woman. Unfortunately, it’s available for subscribers only.
The story of his interfaith relationship begins typically. He met Juliana when they were both graduate students at Yale in the ’80s:
When they wanted to get married, they looked for a rabbi to officiate at their wedding. They decided against it when it was clear that the majority of rabbis would not. But religion was important to both of them, so they ended up getting married in a church–a fact that hurt Juliana.
Later came the conversation about how to raise the children:
But unlike in most interfaith marriages, she called his bluff:
As his wife and children embraced an observant form of Judaism, Reno felt increasingly spiritually apart from his family. As he watched them observe the rules of kashrut–eating milk and meat from separate plates, abstaining from eating much of what their friends ate–he went through a crisis of faith. Judaism demanded that its adherents behave in a certain way so that they would belief in a certain way. Christianity, on the other hand, demands that it adherents believe a certain way so they will behave a certain way. Reno wonders if Christianity has it backwards. Is prioritizing belief a convenient way to say one thing in church and do another in the world?
It’s a beautiful and poignant piece and details the challenges faced by interfaith couples when both partners are devoted to their religion.
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