Interfaith, same sex, and every other kind of marriage is holy to someone

wedding.jpgThere’s been a lot of talk in the news this week about weddings and marriage. It seems that almost everyone has an opinion about who should be allowed to marry whom, how and when certain groups of people should mark their lifetime commitments, who should and shouldn’t officiate, and which unions are genuine marriages.

You know what I think? Marriage is one of the most important and highly personal decisions two people can make. If you don’t like the kind of union someone is creating, well, then don’t have one. And to people who claim that allowing two men or two women to legally wed, or a having rabbi participate in an interfaith ceremony before Shabbat has ended, is somehow a threat to the “right” kind marriage…….seriously? I mean, seriously?


Personally, I’d love to see the government get out of the marriage business entirely. Let people register their domestic partnerships much in the same way they register to vote, and leave the rituals and celebrations, should they choose to have them, up to them.

That’s what I think, anyhow. Mazel Tov, Chelsea, Mark and every gay man and women in California who has sought the right to marry. Of all the problems we face in this world, is too many people promising to love each other forever really something to complain about?

And while this has nothing whatsoever to do with gay marriage, I was thrilled to see more former chumash teacher at the forefront of this statement of support for gay and lesbian Jews.

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posted August 6, 2010 at 11:24 am

Seriously, what does the Word of God say about marriage?
The real issue is obedience to the Word of God over the opinion of man, from your article it looks like you elevate the opinions of man over the Word of God.

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posted August 6, 2010 at 11:54 am

People who use the “word of God” argument are just trying to make a poor attempt at hiding their bigotry.
The “word of God” – first of all – is different to many people. The Torah, Quran, Book of Mormon, Christian bible, etc. say different things. And God didn’t for the United States of America. Man did (to get away from religious persecution, ironically).
And even if you COULD use the “word of God” angle, then you would also have to stone someone for committing adultery, give away part of your field to the poor, marry your husband’s brother when your husband dies, and a whole lot of other things that are now deemed inhumane.
Lastly, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Did gay people get to vote on whether or not YOU got married?!?

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Minnesota Mamaleh

posted August 6, 2010 at 4:14 pm

amy, your post is nothing short of perfect! my absolute favorite line? although there were *many* to choose from, was this one: Of all the problems we face in this world, is too many people promising to love each other forever really something to complain about? absolutely. perfect.

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Sarah Buttenwieser

posted August 7, 2010 at 7:58 am

Well put.
Now that I’m a (jewish/probably aethiest, kinda quaker-ish, more something else, certainly full of awe) Internet ordained minister (universal life church) & actually talk to marrying couples the amount of worry about “should” amazes me. And yet I was a bride, worried about pleasing my parents too.
For the record, we had a chuppah & two ministers (real ones) who were friends. So it went.

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posted August 7, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Great column! If two people wish to make a commitment to one another, it hurts no one. (My husband and I argue about this frequently.) Moreover, if it helps them to lead more stable, fulfilled lives, then it is actually of benefit to society.
I have only looked in on your column once or twice, since my only child is a sheltie, but now I will be sure to read it more often.

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Daphne Steinberg

posted August 7, 2010 at 10:03 pm

Amen and Yasher Koach Amy! You articulated my thoughts on this subject beautifully and exactly. Just now I finished watching the documentary “Paperclips” with its wonderful, powerful message about tolerance and what can happen when love prevails. What matters as you so clearly note is that people who love each other are committing to supporting and honoring each other. Only love and tolerance can make our world a better place. Thanks for your courageous words and wonderful insights.

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Aviel b'Meir

posted August 8, 2010 at 4:31 am

Altogether kolonsG-d said two men lying with one another having sex was an abomination to Him who do I listen to; two gay guys or two gay women… Or do I listen to HaShem… I don’t know about you but me I listen to HaShem. That’s where I stand you don’t like it… sorry but I stand with HaShem not Gay’s
As for mixed marriage wish they would not but if they do, blessings on them I hope they make it.

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posted August 8, 2010 at 8:34 am

My perspective is that if you believe the word of God is against Gay marriage, you really are entitled to that belief, and you should not have one. Correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t know of any sacred texts of any religion that compel us to go out of our way to stop others from marrying.

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posted August 8, 2010 at 10:00 am

I entirely agree that it would be best if the state got out of the business of marriage, and stick to a strictly legal agreement – domestic partnership – for any two competent adults that choose to enter into it.
There are many things G-d clearly forbids that are not addressed by our laws. For example, we have no laws forbidding Jews from eating tref. It is left to individuals to obey voluntarily. That is as it should be.
Marriage should also be like this. It is not that G-d allows or forbids A and B to wed, but that it is not the business of the state to enforce G-d in this matter.

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posted August 8, 2010 at 1:02 pm

I agree with you, Amy. If a person doesn’t like homosexual relationships, they are free to not have one!
Furthermore, anyone still using the tired “abomination” argument against homosexual relationships (like our friends above) should read Jay Michaelson’s column on the dangers of mistranslation and taking ancient scripture out of historical context.
It can be read here:

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posted August 9, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Amy, your article expresses my feeling quite well. Who someone marries really is no one elses’ business except the 2 involved. For those who have a problem with inter-faith, inter-racial, homosexual marriages need not do so in their life. How simple is that?

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posted August 9, 2010 at 2:50 pm

great article amy! I came here via PJ Library. I’m someone who makes ketubot for a living and I work with plenty of interfaith and same sex couples. And it’s always a pleasure to share in two people’s love and commitment to each other. But I have no doubt that Mark and Chelsea will raise their kids with very few Jewish customs, which is unfortunate. I’ve seen it many times in my own family. But to each his own…

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posted August 9, 2010 at 11:24 pm

My father was a Lakota Sioux Indian who grew up on a reservation in South Dakota. While in the army, he met a Jewish soldier, started asking questions about the religion and converted because he found Judaism was a religion that incorporated his belief in G-d with his own Lakota heritage. He took these things very seriously. He was a vetran of both the U.S. and Israeli army, and while uneducated, he was the smartest man I ever knew. He believed that as a Jew and a Lakota his duty was to teach me to observe my religion and heritage “for as long as the grass is green and the rivers flow.” He was always irked by people who used Jewish and Lakota symbols without combining them with their meaning. He reminded me that symbols without substance are nothing more than “window dressing.” When I married, he escorted me to the chuppah (which didn’t even come close to the one used by Chelsea and Marc) and whispered in my ear, “You are the link in the chain, not the Jew in the woodpile.” He was not Shakespeare, but I got the point.
Before he died, he gave each of us a blessins and reminded us of our responsibility. “My duty is now your duty.” I have plenty to write about my heritage as a Native American, but I will stick to Chelsea and Marc.
I could care less who Chelsea Clinton married. However, if being Jewish was important to Marc, he would have married a Jew. If Chelsea were so devoted to her husband and his “commitment” to his faith, she would have thrown her lot in with his. The Clintons are not religious nor are they practicing Methodists. The kippa, tallis, “chuppah” and “ketuba” were nothing more than symbols without substance. The wedding was “window dressing.”
I am surprised that we even discuss intermarriage. Intermarriage has been on the rise for the past 40 years. The most thorough study of the effects of intermarriage was completed by Egon Mayer years ago. His conclusions remain intact. Jews who intermarry do not care about their religion or heritage. The children of intermarriage do not grow up to identify as Jews, practice Judaism or raise their children as Jews, (even though they may be “raised” as Jews). In the end, Marc is nothing more than the Jew in the woodpile. No amount of symbols will change that.
I have been married for 28 years. My three sisters in law married men who were not Jewish. They raised their children with all of the symbols of Judaism. My children lacked their cousin’s fancy kippot and tallism. They vacationed in Florida and Hawaii and our money went to pay for yeshiva tuitions. My inlaws told us we were “depriving” our children. We disagreed.
As adults, my husband’s nieces and nephews followed their parents. They did not practice Judaism, and their only identity as Jews was that their mothers were Jewish.
A few months ago, we received a blistering letter from my oldest sister in law. Her son was engaged to a non-Jew. They were going to be married under a canopy by a rabbi she had contacted and priest. Like it or not, she wrote, her grandchildren were going to be Jewish, and we had better “accept” it. If we didn’t, we were not “honoring Torah.” We did not respond.
A few weeks later, she called us. We had not talked to her in 20 years. Her son had been killed in a car accident. She apologized for the letter and all of the things she said over the years. She explained that her husband wanted their son cremated, but she did not. “That wouldn’t be Jewish.” She wanted him to leave this world as a Jew. She asked us to arrange our nephew’s funeral. She told us she “did not want symbols.” All of the sudden my intermarried sister in law sounded like my father.
We paid for the funeral, burial and grave. Relatives who had not spoken to us in over a decade came to the funeral. They sat with me and held my hand. My sister and father in law asked my husband to say kaddish for our nephew because his father “couldn’t and didn’t understand how important it was.” I don’t know why all of this was important to her now, but it was. At this time in her life she was wanted to the substance of her religion, not the symbols.
I wish Chelsea and Marc well. Like any married couple, they deserve happiness. However, we should not “kvell” either. Judaism has many beautiful and powerful symbols. These symbols do not stand alone. They are only important when they are backed by substance. My Lakota father taught me that. The death of my nephew reinforced it. Marc may have worn the symbols of a Jew, but he lost the substance of his religion and heritage long ago.

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Grumpy Old Person

posted August 11, 2010 at 8:55 am

“Altogether kolonsG-d said two men lying with one another having sex was an abomination to Him”
Ditto for eating shrimp. You gonna picket Red Lobster next?
Just how selective in your pull-quotes from a Bronze Age man-made book are you going to be? Shall we not ‘surely put to death’ those ‘abominable’ queers? Why would you ignore THAT Scripture if you’re going to pick the fags out for special “abomination” status in the 21st century?

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Joseph C. Moore, Cpo USN Ret.

posted August 12, 2010 at 11:47 am

Donna, you have made a cogent comment on the subject of mixed marriage. Most of the posts are by secular/liberalist people who have no real commitment except their wishy-washy political correctnest to fall back on. As for the government take on marriage, I say what has the government interference with a religious commitment got to do with anything except as a means of revenue and control over its SUBJECTS. The bible does not condone homosexual behavior but if the government wants to and the couple agree, they are welcome to the subservience created.

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posted August 12, 2010 at 11:53 am

Thank you for sharing your story. My condolences to you on the loss of your nephew. You described so well why intermarriage is a tragedy. Marriage is far more than two people promising to love each other for the rest of their lives.

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Sophia Greene

posted August 13, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Why are you singling out Marc and Chelsea?, Are you G-d messenger?, Do you know these young peoples hearts?
Perhaps I would look to my own situations before casting stones at others if I were you, as I am not you I embrace all who seek love and goodness under G-d! shabbat shalom

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posted August 14, 2010 at 10:22 pm

It is tragic that picking and choosing ones’ fights when it comes to religion is the watchword. One can’t be judgemental of gay marriage–or anything else about that way of life–and use the Bible as a sticking point unless one is adhering to the 613 commandments (or at least the ones that are actually doable without a Temple) oneself. If you aren’t keeping them yourself, lay off running the lives of others. Run your own life. All I see is love. All I see is the creation of (GASP!!!!) lasting families. All I see is communities strengthening. I suspect that G-d loves all those things way more than G-d could possibly be upset by gay marriage.

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posted August 15, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Marriage is a wonderful institution, full of love, joy, hard work, with both people listening to each other with their brains and their hearts and building a family with the bricks of daily life.
While interfaith marriage is a reality – in almost all cultures and religions, it remains an important issue for the married couple and our society. Anecdotally, I know many married couples and practising either ones religion is always a sensitive subject. It would appear that in order for Judaism to thrive it will necessary to impress on our young people the life long committment Judaism is for them and the intergenerational committment Judaism is to our Great Grandparents and to our Greatgranchildren.
Synagogue attendance, religious observance, and religious affiation in the United States for all Jewish groups, except the Orthodox, has been declining since the 1970’s and continues to decline. The economy is partially to blame of course – people have to eat, so they work when they can – even Saturday. It may work for Catholics to go to mass on Sunday for an hour and then not touch their faith in a formal way until the next Sunday. It may work for Protestants to go to church on Sunday and then not think about it until next Sunday. There is mountains of evidence for all to see that if Jews only go to temple on Friday nite or Saturday morning without actively touching their faith until the next week – it will not work for those Jews, their families or for the Jewish community. We as parents and adults have to set the tone of Adult Education at the synagogue, weekly group Torah Study, regular community job assignments to help those in need, and of course the structure has to be put in place for the average Jew to attend classes or load food at the food bank or …. More important than that is the change in our hearts to one of committment to Judaism and to our synagogue – whether we like the Pres. of the Board, our child’s Religious School Teacher or not.
On the other hand, the quality of Jewish thought and the number of popluar authors and scholars appears to be in a period of incredible, outstanding renewal. My opinion is this means while the “numbers” may be down, the quality of those remaining is in fact increasing. That is a great foundation for Modern Judaism – of all stripes. Let’s invite our friends over for dinner or out to dinner or ….. so we can reconnect with them as friends and fellow Jews first and later we can help them gently reconnect to the Jewish community.

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Your Name

posted August 15, 2010 at 11:37 pm

Let those who want to get married do the vows,may it be same sex marriages,interfaith marriages,whatsoever.People inlove with each other naturally will decide to be married to each other.
When we are believers of Jesus Christ,we know the path to living a
peaceful life,when you’re hindu or Jew or Moslem or other Religious
Beliefs,we also have learned how to love one another,respect one another.As long as we know that love is about the other person or our partner we have chosen,we have a glimpse of what love is all about.
No matter what,the truth is there is God who is the very source of love,for God is love Himself.Let’s share love to another,and let’s just be hopeful that when we share the right kind of love,we know and we are confident that God,who is Love is blessing us.

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