Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Intermarriage: Avoiding the Neurosis of Exclusionist Messianic Judaism

In Messianic Judaism, as I've mentioned, there are two camps, those who see the Jewish way of life as excluding Gentiles and those who see the Jewish way of life as including Gentiles.  Of these camps, the Exclusionist Camp (the ones who segregate Jews and Gentiles according to a supposed differentiation in life calling) experiences confusion on the issue of intermarriage.

Exclusionist Jews who marry Gentile women often feel guilty that they've sabotaged their children with a difficult choice:  should the children follow the Jewish way of life of their father or should they follow the Gentile way of life of their mother?  (or vice versa)  And there's also the guilty feeling of having married outside the covenant.  Have I betrayed my People?  etc, etc...

Inclusionist Messianic Judaism, on the other hand, sees the New Covenant as more inclusive version of the Old Covenant (i.e. Sinaitic Covenant), thus obligating all Believers to follow a Jewish way of life--even the uncircumcised and non-proselyte Gentiles must follow a Jewish way of life.  In the Inclusionist view, since Jews and Gentiles belong to the same covenants and live the same Jewish lifestyle, all of the pitfalls of Exclusionist Messianic Judaism are avoided.  There's no confusion:  everyone must follow Judaism.  There's no guilt:  G-d loves it when a Jew marries a Gentile when both are dedicated to following the demands of the covenant of Israel.  Thus, under the Inclusionist framework, intermarriage is not an issue at all.  On the contrary!  It is seen as a beautiful thing!  Just like the marriage of Ruth and Boaz, intermarriage is something that glorifies HaShem by demonstrating the trans-ethnic goodness of His commands.


  1. Within a messianic context it seems unavoidable to permit intermarriage and thus inclusionism is the default option. Exclusionism would tear apart the Assembly of Messiah into two separate groups. This would be a denial of our confession that we find our deepest unity in Messiah. Exclusionism can only be maintained by artificially separating Jews and non-Jews and by assigning them to different congregations and communities. This can be done in a meaningful way in an Orthodox Jewish context, but not in a messianic context. In a messianic context the unity of the Mystical Body is of overriding importance.

    From this it appears that One-Law Theology is preferable above Divine Invitation Theology or Messianic Noachidism. Essentially there are only two practical possibilities in keeping the Body together: either all Messianics have to live a Torah obedient lifestyle, or all have to renunciate Torah-observance. The historical Christian Church has made the renunciation of Torah its hallmark. But for this she has paid the price of separation from her Jewish roots. To compensate for this loss she had to christianize pagan rituals and observances in order to establish a religious lifestyle at all and not fall prey to a meaningless secularism.

    Intermarriage and inclusionsism in Messiah are thus strong systematic arguments for One-Law Theology.