As a kid, religion really wasn't part of my vocabulary. The question was “where do you go to church?” not “what religion are you?” Later, in my teens, I began asking the deeper questions about who I was, and what life was really about. I remember thinking that while I was “grown up” I was not really sure what I wanted to be. More importantly, I didn't know who I was. I believed in God, but so did everyone else I knew. I longed for more than a casual belief in a higher power than myself. I wanted to belong to a group, to have an identity that says who we are, where we are going and what we do. Like many people, I wanted part of something bigger than myself, something important. I aspired to make a difference.
Needing some direction in life, I joined the military. Though I was part of a larger identity, I still felt empty, and alone. It wasn't until I was out at sea, away from my troubles at home, that God found me, and showed me a purpose for living.
Growing up, I remember going to church on Sunday with my family. Like many families, we also went shopping on the way back home. At the house, we went back to our chores and normal routines. Church was a weekly event, much like mowing the lawn Saturday morning or taking out the trash Thursday night. Sunday mornings meant meeting with other believers at 10:15 am, two rows back, second pew. It was a date we kept, not a day we honored. We were good people, but not spiritually grounded in our faith.
Part of the problem was that my parents came from distinctly different religions. My Mom was a Mormon, my Dad was raised a Baptist. As a result of compromise, we attended a local non-denominational house of worship. Mostly, we went to church as a family because “that's where families belong on Sunday morning." Personal responsibility aside, I wonder, in the light of so much research about interfaith marriage and interfaith families, if I would have made better choices into hood had I understood what our faith was, what it meant, and how our relgion makes a difference in how we live. As a parent, I hope that my wife and I can help our children understand life's important mysteries and help them find real answers in God's will, our faith.
Have you heard the story of Balaam and his miraculous talking donkey? In case you haven’t, Balaam was a selfish, spineless Old Testament prophet who eventually rejected doing God’s will. The book of Numbers tells of how the elders of the ancient Midianites and Moabites, after hearing of Israel's great conquest over the surrounding nations, sought out a spiritual leader to strike down this people of destiny. To that end, they found the wayward prophet Balaam. Despite God telling him that Israel was blessed, Balaam, eager for financial gain, accepted the Midianites’ payment in exchange for pronouncing evil against Israel. However, only after his donkey saved him from certain death involving the Angel of the Lord, and during this incident began talking, did Balaam reconsider his greedy ways. So at four different occasions, Balaam, looking down on the encampment of Israel, spoke the words that the Lord put in his mouth, blessing God’s chosen people, rather than cursing them. Thought he knew directly from God that Israel was blessed, that disloyal prophet, again stubbornly sought to ensnare God’s people, which he did, in a later, successful plot against the Israelites. (Num 31:16) You may not know this, but Israel was a chosen people, distinct and purposely set apart from all other nations. (Ex 33:16, Lev 20:23-26) This separation required that the Israelites worship and marry within their own religion. Nevertheless, Balaam, who had some knowledge God’s ordinances, devised a way to use their own desires against them. He instructed the women of Moab, the Midianites (Num 25:1-3) to socialize with the children of Israel, eventually enticing them into joining them in ual s and religious idolatry through the worship of Baal-Peor. As a result of this apostasy, 24,000 Israelites were destroyed by a plague. Soon after, vengeance was taken against the Midianites and they were utterly destroyed. (Num 25:16-18; 31:1)
Certainly, if frequent, informal contact with our neighbors and co-workers can influence our decisions, then our most intimate relationships must hold even greater power. Our closest personal ties, such as to our husband or wife, through our daily interactions, not only influence our worldview, but often our spiritual view as well. These relationships can encourage a closer walk with God, or they can lead us astray, as demonstrated by Israel’s long, turbulent history of spiritual wandering. Like the Bible says, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” (Amos 3:3) Though we run into new people everyday, the nature of the relationships we create is in our hands. Dating, for example, illustrates how the choices we make along the path from introduction to acquaintance, to friendship, to partnership, and eventually to soul mate.
For Instance, Vicki, a faithful, young Christian woman meets Mark, a young professional, who although is a “good” person, feels no need of God in his life. Mark and Vicki start out casually, having lunch at work, maybe sightseeing, etc. As time progresses, their relationship becomes more serious, and they find themselves deeply emotionally involved. However, Vicki wants Mark, who she cares for and loves, to accept Jesus as his personal Savior. Unfortunately, Mark has no interest in religion, resents her prodding, and just “wants to do his thing.” Obviously, their conflicting views of religion create friction between them. If Vicki overlooks Mark’s differences, and marries him, he may interpret the marriage as a sign that she finally accepts him as he is. For her, nothing could be farther from the truth! Like many sincere, yet naïve young people, she probably thinks that somehow she can “rescue” him from his ways and “win him over” to the Lord. In an overwhelming number of marriages this “conversion” never occurs, for conversion is never forced, pleaded, or persuaded, but comes from the Holy Spirit’s workings on the heart.
Dianne, who is a nurse and a Christian counselor, can attest to this. Her mother married a good, honest man with a “slight” drinking problem. For 10 difficult years, she prayed for his salvation and pleaded with her husband, while he drank away thousands of dollars and neglected their family. Was she sincere? Of course. Sadly, she realized that despite her heartfelt prayers, her husband never came to Christ.
Sure, Vicki has another choice. She can stop seeing Mark. In fact, this happened to a friend of mine. Jim, who is presently involved in Christian Ministry, relates how his friend, Barbara, broke up with him over their differences. Several years ago, Jim, a self-described “decent guy”, who occasionally drank, smoked marijuana, and believed in a mix of Buddhism and popular culture met and dated a lovely, devout Christian woman. One day at work, Jim noticed this beautiful figure of womanhood, quickly became infatuated, and asked her out. During their conversation, Barbara explained to him that she was a pastor’s daughter and recently renewed her baptismal vows. Jim, having dated other religious women, wasn’t concerned. Very quickly, they started caring deeply for each other. As they learned and discussed more together, they started arguing about various religious views. At the end of three or four months, Barbara wanted to stop seeing Jim. She said, “I feel as if I have to choose between you and God.” Since they had already discussed marriage, Jim responded by offering her a separate bedroom and all the space she needed to “do whatever you need for your religion”, but “not to expect me to get involved.” In response, she chose God and broke up with Jim.
Although Jim grudgingly accepted her decision, he had already decided that he “was not going to change for anybody,” and began dating other women. However, after two months, with his world spinning out of control from his “life of sin,” Jim opened the Bible and started reading about Jesus. To Barbara’s surprise, he began going to church, attending Bible study and lastly, got baptized. After reuniting, within a few months, Barbara and Jim married. By God’s grace, their whirlwind romance has turned into nearly twenty years of happiness. This isn’t always the case, though. Sometimes, a fiancé will get baptized, accept their partner’s religion, and marry within a short period. Often, these last-minute conversions do not last, as they were based on love for their spouse or fear of losing them. As in the parable of the sower, since “he has no root in himself,” he returns to his former, secular ways when trouble and temptations come. (Matt 13:21)
To prevent unhappy, frustrated marriages, Scripture provides strong warnings against intermarriage. As previously noted, the nation of Israel was called out of Egypt to form a separate, distinct people from its inception. (Exodus, KJV). Solomon, the third king of Israel, and the wisest man who ever lived, foolishly disregarded God’s instruction concerning marriage. Beginning in the book of 1 Kings, Chapter 11, the verses record how his wives turned his heart away from God, and how Solomon went seeking after other gods. As Solomon ignored God’s counsel, and built alters to foreign gods, he lost God’s blessing and protection over Israel against its enemies, resulting in division, loss, and bloodshed throughout the kingdom. In another example, the life of Samson also traces the troubles of one who married outside his faith. He lost his hair, his sight, and finally, in one act of heroic repentance, his life. Responding to the effects of this spiritual apostasy, the prophet Isaiah strongly rebuked the entire nation of Israel for straying from God’s instruction not to marry out of the tribe of Israel. At that time, as during the reign of King Solomon, many people had left Judaism for other foreign religions. (Isaiah KJV) Clearly, “However pure and correct one’s principles may be, the influence of an unbelieving companion will have a tendency to lead away from God.” (E.G. White, 174)
As the counterculture social ideas of the 1960’s spread into mainstream culture, men and women have increasingly married outside of their religions. According to the sociologist Eleanore Judd, by 1987, nearly one million people in America live in a home where one partner is “born Jewish and the other is not” (254). Similarly, nearly one in five Catholics is intermarried (Sander 1038). These non-faith or different-faith partners, with their divergent religious or secular views, subtly influence the other member to separate from their religion or convert, which rarely happens, as evidenced by the relatively few new Jewish, Catholic, and other proselytes. Again, in nearly every interfaith marriage, such conversions are scarce. What usually happens is that the more religious partner, feeling hindered by the spouse’s reluctance to participate in, and lack of enthusiasm for, his or her beliefs, eventually loses interest in regular church or synagogue attendance. In some marriages, these differences lead to divorce.
Very good explanations exist for the decline in religious fervor, worship attendance, or participation in religious activities. Jesus, in the parable of the sower, explains that emotional and physical problems, stress, and various concerns can prevent a spiritual relationship from forming and weaken an existing one. The psychologist David Wells states that “Conversion calls for trust,” but if “their whole life is built around distrust,” conversion cannot take place. (31) Conversely, if believers become dissatisfied with the answers religion gives them, or they find their marriage partner’s secular lifestyle more attractive than their own, they may lose interest in their faith practices. Again, in the interfaith marriage, if the secular partner is satisfied with his or her lifestyle and doesn’t sense a need to find fulfillment in the faith partner’s religion, the non-faith partner feels no need to convert. Rarely does the secular partner see the need for acceptance and salvation through religion.
Clearly, people who do not feel a spiritual hunger do not seek out spiritual food (Wells 31). It is in reaching out to an unmet need that people convert to Judaism, Christianity, or another religion. When they are convicted by the pleadings of the Holy Spirit, they realize that only God can fill their emptiness. It is then that they seek a sense of belonging, acceptance, and assurance that day-to-day relationships do not address. What they seek is an intangible, spiritual connection that their physical and emotional relationships cannot supply. Besides purely spiritual affiliations, when believers fellowship with one another, they develop a support group linked by religious experience and culture, which give a sense of community.
Religion, from Buddhism or Zionism, offers answers to complex questions, such as our purpose, the creation of life, and what happens after death. “Religion functions to meet the spiritual needs of individuals” (Kornblum 504). Religious practice involves birth, education, lifestyle, marriage, and death. The lens through which people see the world is based on our ideas of justice and mercy, which reflect a religious viewpoint. And when two people from differing religions come together in marriage, they attempt to bring their viewpoints into a shared focus. Although a system of beliefs that acknowledge the provides the foundation for nearly all religions, this dogma also creates a distinct identity and a sense of community in a divergent world.
For interfaiths, a belief in the provides both common ground and division. While both partners may believe in some guiding force, the nature and definition of that force varies to such an extent that their beliefs are defined by distinct, even sometimes incompatible religions. For example, if my partner believes that God ordained the nation of Israel “as a light unto all nations” (Exodus) and awaits the Messiah, her religion is defined as Judaism. On the contrary, if I believe that each believer is a light and the Messiah came in the person of Jesus of Nazareth and will return again, my religion is defined as Christianity. Granted that the differences between Christianity and Judaism stated here are oversimplified, one can still see how both of us believe in the , yet differ greatly in the way we relate to this spiritual power. It is our separate ways of relating, or our belief systems that clearly define our religious differences.
Religion, ethnic identity, and ethics are important to identity and marital stability. With divorce rates hovering around 50%, marriage partners need every advantage that spiritual fellowship, community and support give them. Activities related to religious observance, such as raising children, supporting causes, evangelism, and especially tithing generate less friction when both partners have a similar religious frame of reference (Lehrer 247). When one partner wants to set a nativity scene in their living room for Christmas, or send their children to a Jesuit college, or vacation in Israel, conflicts between Christians, Jews, and non-believers easily arise. Truly, the benefits of increased harmony are greater within a same-faith relationship. In similar faith group marriages, such as in Anglican and Lutheran marriages, the partners report a greater sense of marital satisfaction, and fulfillment than do interfaith marriage partners as a whole. (Lehrer 259-261) Evidently, despite the notion that opposites attract, the more two partners have in common, including faith, the more stable and long-lasting the marriage is.
In contrast, the conflicting belief systems in an interfaith marriage are a source of friction. The Catholic member has difficulty celebrating Christ’s resurrection when his or her Jewish partner is still waiting for the Messiah. Conversely, the Jew who has a fond remembrance of celebrating Passover with unleavened bread would rather not go on an Easter egg hunt with the family. Respecting that his or her Christian partner takes the Genesis account literally, a non-believer may feel uneasy explaining evolution to their child. Take the day of worship as another example how religions differ. The interfaith family must choose between celebrating Sabbath, Sunday, Friday (Islam), none at all, or in some way compromise and celebrate a combination of holy days. Eventually, children raised in this environment will develop their own belief system. Rather than “choosing” the right religion, they tend to adopt no religion at all, rather than alienating one of their parents and creating further tension between them. In the case of the earlier mentioned counselor, Dianne, out of five children, she is the only one who participates in church, and has a close relationship with God.
Because of this tendency for the children of interfaith marriages to abandon organized religion, Rabbis, Priests, and Pastors are concerned about intermarriage and the subsequent loss of followers. According to Golway, “Where once Jews made up 4 % of the population, they now make up about 2 %.” As quoted in Alan Dershowitz’s book, The Vanishing American Jew, sociologist Arthur Ruppin states: The structure of Judaism, once so solid, is crumbling away before our very eyes. Conversion and intermarriage are thinning the ranks of Jews in every direction, and the loss is heavier to bear, in that the great decrease in the Jewish birth-rate [sic] makes it more and more difficult to fill up the gaps in the natural way . ... We see in the assimilance movement the greatest danger that has assailed Judaism since the Depression.” (emphasis in original) (71) Certainly, the “disappearing Jew” is on the sectarian endangered species list. Some rabbis question whether a distinctly Jewish people will exist for future generations. Further, he suggests that as Catholics intermarry, a similar phenomenon is occurring in their numbers. By this statement, Golway implies that Catholic intermarriage may result in the loss of a distinctly Catholic faith. (Golway 6)
Jews, Catholics, Adventists, and other distinctive faith groups are at the greatest risk for losing membership. Many factors contribute to these losses, such as the natural tendency towards assimilation, and the current atmosphere of religious tolerance. Over the last 40 years of relative peace and prosperity, combined with the social revolution of the 1960’s, many of the ceremonies and traditions that have historically defined these religions, such as the Catholic mass in Latin, the way Jewish holy days are observed, and even the accepted style of dress have disappeared. In contrast, Ecumenical Protestant and self-described nominal or non-religious numbers are largely unaffected by intermarriage or are increasing. Tracking these groups is difficult, since their beliefs are broad, varied, and no clearly defined. Although these groups believe in various popular theologies, nominals observe few religious festivals outside of Christmas and Easter, while Ecumenicals celebrate numerous religious events.
Historically, Catholics and Jews blame intermarriage for these attitudes. Jewish and Catholic leaders have observed through sociologic studies and demographic interpretation that generation after generation of intermarriage leads to an increased assimilation into general society and a decreased sense of distinct ethnic or religious identity. Catholics, to combat these losses from their folds, and encourage interfaith partners and their families to renew their religious fervor, have opted for masses in English, less formal services, and appealing television advertisements. Rabbis have sought to reach nominal members and non-Jewish partners through personal appeal and programs like “Stepping Stones… To a Jewish Me” and the National Jewish Outreach Program. (Judd 256) These efforts come at a time when the Catholic and especially the Jewish communities are struggling to define themselves against non-believers. For Maxwell, Judaism must either acknowledge that there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, or “reconstruct a Judaism that means more than just having a Jewish mother or liking bagels.” (43)
Intermarriage, according to many sociologists, is the final step towards group assimilation. Similar to stirring sand into a pitcher of ice water, intermarriage disperses minority group communities into a larger society, although intermarriage does not always mean the loss of the group’s identity. When intermarriage rates exceed 30 percent, sociologists expect that the larger culture will eventually swallow the minority group’s identity. For Catholics and Jews, this rate is as high as 60 percent, causing alarm among the religious leadership. (Judd 251) The greatest concern is whether there will be future generations with faithful believers that hold to the tenets of their grandparent’s faith. Certainly, the men and women who valiantly fought religious persecution, and sustained their faith, desired intently that future generations find their beliefs, customs, and spirituality, meaningful and vibrant.
Today, the dilemma for faith groups is to achieve integration into society without the loss of group identity. (Judd 254) Through intermarriage, a religious group, such as Judaism or Catholicism, disperses into the general population. Intermarriage exposes a greater number of people to this religious system, thus promoting acceptance of their beliefs, but at the same time those same beliefs are often mixed with the population’s values. The Jewish community is a clear example of this predicament. Currently, there are Secular, Reformist, Orthodox, and Ultra-Orthodox Jews within the American culture. Historically, as more conservative, mostly Orthodox Jews immigrated to the United States and raised children here; their offspring incorporated the communities’ values into their religious heritage. Because of the exposure and subsequent incorporation of western philosophies, the majority of American Jews are now Reformist. With the trend towards greater assimilation and relaxation of beliefs, sectarian leaders have good reason to fear the loss of religious identity.
Reasonably, as many Jews argue, intermarriage is the root cause of their brethren departing the Jewish community. (Mayer 35) In contrast, Maxwell suggests that some Jews harbor unconscious anti-Semitic sentiment, making intermarriage an opportunity to leave Judaism and start a new lifestyle. (42) Despite years of research, the exact reason why Jews leave Judaism is unclear. However, surveys and informal interviews show that it is the nominal or marginally faithful Jews, who have a weak religious connection, rather than their more strongly connected religious conservative or orthodox brethren, who tend to marry outside their faith. A good explanation is that Orthodox and other conservative Jews adhere to Jewish law, which forbids intermarriage, more closely than either their reformist or marginal counterparts. So it is the nominal members that tend to choose partners that are devout in another faith, or are marginally religious themselves. As a result, the Jewish partner and their children cease attending a synagogue regularly, and eventually no longer identify with the faith. (McClain 36) For many Jewish leaders, interfaith marriage, with the resultant loss of followers, “is not good for the Jewish people.” (Greenberg 41)
While the 1990 National Jewish Population Survey found that a scant 9% of spouses convert to Judaism, no definite numbers exist for the Jews who stop coming to worship. (Rapoport 53) However, the consensus in the Jewish community is that the number of people who identify as Jews is dwindling. Largely, this is due to the declining influence of first-generation and conservative European Jews in America. In other words, as Jews assimilate themselves into American society, they leave more of the traditional Judaism behind. (Dershowitz 28-30)
According to Rapoport, the children of Jewish intermarrieds are “far less likely to identify as Jews. (53) This decline in identifying offspring demonstrates, in an interfaith marriage, that the faith partner, nominally religious at the outset, loses interest in religion during the course of the marriage. If the faith partner is passionate about his or her religion, then the children are raised to incorporate those beliefs into their lives. After all, if those raised in their faith hardly reflect their religious values, can we blame their children for abandoning them altogether?
One of my coworkers comes from an interfaith home. She knows her parent's beliefs, and respects them, yet practices neither her mother's nor her father's faith. Divorced with children, dating and searching for happiness, she is, in her own words, “doing my thing.”
Catholic religious behavior, such as attending mass and praying the Rosary has also become less distinct. (Lehrer 250) Increasingly, Catholic leaders are finding that intermarried Catholics are no longer attending regular services and are Catholic in name only. As with their Jewish counterparts, the marginally to moderately Catholic are more prone to intermarriage. As social behavior between Catholics and Protestants become less distinct, more Catholics find reason to intermarry and produce a generation less religiously unique than themselves who intermarry, completing the cycle. Like the Jews, the Catholic intermarrieds are less interested in their childhood religion.
Declining interest doesn’t always mean total denial, however. In many interfaith, or what Rabbi Harold Schulweiss calls “interfaithless” marriages, the marriage partners celebrate their heritage, much in the way descendants from Ireland or Latin America remember their ancestry through holidays and festivals. (Mayer 37) Hanukkah, Christmas, and Easter are celebrated as secular festivals as opposed to religious ceremonies. The marriages are interfaithless in that neither partner feels strongly tied to their birth religion, nor attracted enough to the other partner’s beliefs to seek conversion. (Dershowitz 34)
In the rare occasion where the secular or “other faith” partner expresses an interest in conversion, his or her efforts are often met with cool intonations. A problem, at least for Judaism, is that Jews have been reluctant to welcome converts. Because of centuries of anti-Semitic legal and social penalties, conversion to Judaism has fallen dramatically. Consequently, this external prejudice has created a Jewish theology that hesitates to welcome outsiders, even if that outsider is now a proselyte. Recently, Jewish Reformists have begun to address this issue. Reformists are calling the Jewish people to their “historic role as a ‘light unto the nations’” and to again bring converts to Judaism. (Epstein 312) However, as secular partners continue to feel awkward exploring a religion into which they may not receive full acceptance, discouragement mounts, and interest dies, resulting in resentment towards the partner’s faith, or a renewed undertaking of their secular lifestyle.
Despite occasional friction between partners over religious beliefs, happy, supportive interfaith marriages exist all over the world. Catholics, Jews, Protestants, and many other religious members are married to a partner of another faith or of no faith at all. They successfully create a loving, supportive home and healthy families by focusing on their common points of faith. In so doing, they ignore their different, yet recognizable religious doctrines. As a result, unfortunately, that intangible other, their religious experience, suffers. They become a family whose religion is of ethnic origin rather than personal conviction. They celebrate “being of descent” instead of living their faith, leaving their children “to wrestle with questions of belief and faith on their own.” (Golway 6) Despite the celebration of particular religious days, such as Lent or Hanukkah, interfaith marriages reflect two people in love, keeping the inherent conflicts of religion out of their marriage, and thus preventing the sharing of the religious treasures that same-faith couples count as blessings.
While a sparse number of interfaith marriages result in both partners establishing or rediscovering their spiritual roots, for many, the marital relationship leads the marginally faithful further away from their childhood religion. While research papers abound concerning Jewish and Catholic intermarriage, Fundamentalist and Ecumenical Christians have little press in this matter. Despite the lack of research concerning Protestant intermarriage, one can understand, from the numerous Catholic and Jewish examples, how religious beliefs, such as regular attendance, abstinence from secular pursuits on religious holidays, and adherence to religious traditions can get left at the alter after the wedding.
If sociologists and religious leaders are correct in implicating marriage as a major factor in the loss of religious identity for faith groups, and religious assimilation continues, then the future holds some interesting possibilities. Since the most conservative, strictly keeping their religious code, are least likely to intermarry and disperse into other areas, America will contain pockets of conservative or orthodox believers living in neighborhoods centered around the local churches or synagogues. For the reformed or more moderate believers, they will continue to marry into the local population and have a sense of identity similar to being of ethnic descent. (Dershowitz 24-25) Religious identity will be a matter of declaration, rather than certification. Churches, as members intermarry, will need to work harder to maintain their uniqueness, and more energetically involve the non-faith or other-faith spouse in religious activities through meaningful, practical worship experiences. In addition, churches must address the needs of interfaith children, demonstrate the value of their distinct doctrine, and encourage same-faith marriage without deterring the interest of nonbelievers, if faith groups want to prevent the extinction of their identity. Lastly, Rabbis, Priests, and Pastors must work with young believers to help them understand the nature of interfaith relationships, and make successful commitments that will last a lifetime.
While no one can predict our future happiness and spiritual well being, the people we most closely affiliate with, whether as a co-worker, son, daughter, parent or spouse, our associations influence us. Just as we are inspired by a good sermon, we are also disheartened by a neighbor's tragic loss. As for marriage, we can, with spiritual guidance, choose a mate that not only loves us and is in other ways appealing, but also shares our beliefs, and will journey with us as we walk with God, for it is the spiritual, rather than the physical, that truly matters. Sources Cited
Dershowitz, Alan M. The Vanishing American Jew. New York. (1997): 23-32, 71. In the chapter, “The Problem Defined”, the author gives an overview of why American Jews are becoming more liberal and how intermarriage leads to a loss of religious identity.
Epstein, Lawrence J. “Why the Jewish People Should Welcome Converts.” Judaism 43 New York (1994): 302-312. The importance of conversion to Judaism is discussed. While a reluctance to welcome others to the faith is embedded in many Jew’s conception of Judaism, they should welcome converts nonetheless.
Golway, Terry. “Life in the 90’s.” America. 180 New York (1999): 6-8. Catholics are marrying non-Catholics as never before, and many are struggling with the implications for their children. The effect of interfaith marriages on couples and their children is discussed.
Judd, Eleanore Parelman. “Intermarriage and the Maintenance of Religion-Ethnic Identity: a Case Study: The Denver Jewish Community.” Journal of Comparative Family Studies 21 (1990): 251-268. The relationship between intermarriage and religio-ethnic identity were studied by examining the differences between competing sets of sociological theories of intermarriage. For sociologists and the American Jewish community, intermarriage is a dilemma. Kornblum, William. Religion: Sociology in a Changing World. 4th Ed. New York, 1997 In the chapter about religion, Kornblum explains what religion is, why people practice it and how religion affects society as a whole.
Lehrer, Evelyn L. “Religious Intermarriage in the United States: Determinants and Trends.” Social Science Research 27 (1998): 245-263. Using the data from the 1987-1998 National Survey of Families and Households, determinants and effects of intermarriage are studied. The results show an increase in Catholic and ecumenical Protestant intermarriage.
Maxwell, Nancy Kalikow. “If You’re So Smart, How Come You’re Intermarried?” Tikkun 12 (1997): 42-43. The author discusses intermarriage patterns and Jewish identity. She appeals for theological reform in the Jewish community to regain former members and preserve the Jewish identity.
Mayer, Egon McClain, Ellen Jaffe Kushner, Lawrence Greenberg, and Tirzah BluFirestone. “Lovers and Other Strangers: A Tikkun Roundtable on Intermarriage.” Tikkun 12 (1997): 35-41. Mayer and others examine the increasing existence of intermarriage within the Jewish faith and how this trend is perceived by the larger Jewish community as leading to a decline in believers and overall Jewish distinctiveness.
Rapoport, Nessa. “Five words for Jewish leaders: You still don’t get it.” Tikkun 8 (1993): 53-54. A 1992 survey of the US Jewish community revealed that children in an interfaith marriage were less likely to identify themselves as Jews. The lack of commitment to child care and supportive services is discussed.
Sander, William. “Catholicism and Intermarriage in the United States.” Journal of Marriage and the Family 55 (1993): 1037-1041. In this study, Catholic mixed-marriage rates are examined among a sample of 600 currently married men and women. The study shows that the incidence of interfaith marriage depends on how religion is measured.
Wells, David F. “How and Why We Turn to God.” Christianity Today. 35 (1991): 28-31. Although Religious conversion sometimes happens in a single moment, as evangelists believe, it is most often a much more complex process. The psychology of conversion is examined.
White, Ellen G. Patriarchs and Prophets. Nampa, Idaho (1958): 174. In the chapter, “The Marriage of Isaac” the author illustrates the importance of unity of faith in marriage.