Marriage or matrimony is a sacred pledge that exists between two individuals. It is a new chapter and relationship that seeks adoration, commitment, and honor. Both partners need to support each other emotionally and mentally during tough times.
Every marriage does not end on good terms: Excessive drinking or smoking, affairs, property issues, and other factors develop distrust and animosity between individuals, which leads to separation. With regard to interfaith marriages, the divorce ratio reaches 50%.
In Aaron’s War, Richard McMaster emphasizes the separation issue between couples and exemplifies the intervention of faith as problematic and tortuous.
Problems of Interfaith Marriages
The issue of interfaith marriages is not new. Also known as ‘interreligious or mixed marriages,’ marrying an individual with different religious beliefs was considered ‘taboo’ or ‘prohibited’ in the primitive era.
Most interfaith marriage couples remain segregated and aloof from society because of various reasons like severe backlash from the local community, brewing animosity among people, or mocking from crowds or mobs.
Losing Religious Identity
Relinquishing religious identity and community is one of the foremost reasons for prohibiting interfaith marriage. For most, marriage is a sacred link between people with the same beliefs, values, and traditions. However, marrying someone from a different faith can lead to various problems.
Interfaith Marriages in Judaism
Interfaith marriages in the Jewish religion were strongly disregarded by their leaders. The primary resource of Jewish theology–the Talmud and the religious scholar–Poskim prohibits people of other faiths from marrying Jews.
“This isn’t about man’s laws. This is God’s. A Jew who marries a non-Jew goes against the Torah. It is one of the commandments from Mount Sinai. It cannot happen.” (Maty discussing interfaith marriage with Aaron)
In 1844, the Rabbinical Conference of Brunswick allowed interfaith marriages for Jews. However, a condition was established: Marriage was allowed only if the children were raised as Jews. But even after the decree, interfaith marriage in the Jewish community was rare. In the 19th century, less than one-tenth of one percent of the Jews of Algeria practiced exogamy, i.e., interfaith marriage.
The Forbidden Love Story: Aaron’s War & Interfaith Marriages
Richard McMaster sheds light on interfaith marriage in his tome, Aaron’s War: With the main protagonist falling in love with a Christian woman, he searches for a plausible answer to end the stalemate.
In his book “Aaron’s War,” the author addresses the issue of interfaith marriage and its challenges with Aaron Vanko. The story’s hero, Vanko, is a combatant who plays a significant role in World War II. After peace is established in the war-ravaged country, he finds the love of his life. However, due to religious differences, Vanko cannot manage the wedlock.
The novel sheds light on the Jewish law that prohibits interfaith marriage.
The Jewish Identity
In traditional Jewish law, marriage between a Jewish and a non-Jewish individual is strictly forbidden. It is believed that such a union would compromise the Jewish identity and undermine its heredity. As the community is small, its distinctive identity is crucial to its survival. Marrying a non-Jew is seen as a possible threat to end the race.
Interfaith marriages pose significant challenges for couples and their children. Differences in culture, religion, and values can lead to conflicts and difficulties in raising children with a coherent identity. In Jewish tradition, children are labeled as ‘Jewish’ if their mother is a Jew. Therefore, if a Jew wanted to marry a non-Jew female, their children would not be regarded as Jewish.
Interfaith marriages are prohibited because of the fear of assimilation. Jewish individuals and communities have encountered oppression and bias in the past. Therefore, intermarriage is not a viable option for elders in the Jewish community. In some cases, Jewish individuals marrying non-Jewish partners were pressured to convert to their spouse’s religion, leading to the loss of their Jewish identity and the assimilation of their children into non-Jewish communities.
The issue of interfaith marriage in Judaism remains a controversial and debatable topic. While the prohibition on interfaith marriage may seem harsh, it is essential to understand that it is based on the desire to preserve Jewish identity and continuity. Through Aaron’s War, we learn about the importance of the Jewish community.
Jewish law places high value on maintaining a distinct and unified community because of constant threats to their existence. Interfaith marriage is considered a problem too. It is linked to undermining the growth of Jews in the world. While individuals may opt for interfaith marriages, it is vital to understand the challenges and complications that may arise.
About the Author
Richard McMaster, a former executive in the healthcare industry, led three startup companies and held positions on multiple boards. Originally from Iowa, the author lived in North Idaho for two decades before settling in Phoenix, Arizona. Along with being a writer, he has also written screenplays such as “The Attic” and “Ticket to Heaven.”