I’m always fascinated by the approach of other religions and cultures to interfaith and intercultural marriage. A few have similar concerns to the Jewish community; Zoroastrians, for example, share the same sense of anxiety over dwindling numbers. Others, however, have radically different perspectives on interdating.
Take Evangelicals, for example. Unlike Jews, a shrinking or static population is not a concern. Also unlike Jews, culture has nothing to do with their connection to each other. Belief–in God, in Jesus, in the need to embrace Jesus to go to heaven–is everything.
But like Jews, the evangelical community has its own Hindu widows:
For evangelicals who want to pair up with others of the same faith but don’t manage to do so in their early 20s, trouble lies ahead, particularly for women. Evangelical churches now typically have a 60-40 split between women and men, which means that there are many more single evangelical women out there than their male counterparts. As Ms. Cockrel explains, “I have friends who wanted to marry a Christian guy, are still single, and are more and more open to dating non-Christians as they get older. They’re tired of waiting.”
In a near reversal of typical Jewish behavior, however, it is not parents who disapprove of such relationships as often as it is Evangelical friends:
Camerin Courtney, a columnist at ChristianSinglesToday.com, tells me that most Christian parents are just concerned that “their children find someone they love and who loves them back.”
Interfaith dating among Evangelicals has another twist totally foreign to Jews: the concept of “missionary dating.” If an Evangelical loves another person, then their faith obligates them to proselytize to the person. If you don’t save your closest relations from eternal damnation in Hell, who will you save?
But there is little sociological evidence that “conjugal evangelism” works. Says Brad Wilcox, a sociologist at the University of Virginia, “Evangelicals who marry nonevangelicals are typically less likely to remain as or become as devout as those who marry within the fold.”
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