Purim and St. Patrick’s Day occur in the month of March. So does the changing of the seasons, you know “In like a lion, and out like a lamb,” etc.
The warming trend in North America at this time of year is often associated with a familiar emotional set. Spring fever is what occurs when boys come out of their winter burrows and notice the beauty of young ladies in the flower of their youth. That is all poetic until the attraction of spring fever creates a Jewish-Gentile couple. Then emotions can run into the consequences of cross-cultural attraction.
A Jew and a Gentile meet and begin to date. [That’s not the start of a comedic routine.]
They are enamored by their ethnic, racial and cultural differences. There is an attraction to that which is unknown, an expansion of our world when seen through the eyes of someone who has a different outlook. We like discovery. We are encouraged to explore new cultural frontiers in the diversity of 21st century America.
In the warming sun of spring, boys and girls, men and women, find their emotions turning to affection. Soon the emotion of attraction itself becomes like an endorphin. Couples don’t usually realize that “It feels good just to be feeling in love.” Sometimes infatuation is more pleasant than the person who is allegedly the object of the feelings.
But then over time, our passions may change. I mean that emotions fade and alter— as they always do. The “crush” subsides. Reality of the differences and the consequences of a cross-cultural relationship begin to sink in. Jewish-Gentile couples, during their dating period, often face questions — really difficult questions. Sometimes they are painful questions to contemplate.
Jewish boyfriend: My mother will never accept my marrying a Gentile. Would you be willing to convert to Judaism and leave your Christianity behind?
Gentile girlfriend: If we have children, I’d like them to go to church with me so they can be Christians. Though you are Jewish, would that be okay with you?
Jewish girlfriend: I’m Jewish. Therefore, our children would always be Jewish. Why do you want me to go to church with you?
Gentile girlfriend: I love Jewish culture and religious practices. Why don’t you like my culture and religious practices too?
Of course these challenges, and many more, are not experienced exclusively in the springtime. However, they are felt most profoundly when strong “spring- fever-like” emotions run high and a cross-cultural relationship is initiated. It is said that “opposites attract.” That is clearly the case in Jewish-Gentile couple relations.
However, when the differences in cultural experience begin to surface, partners report tension, challenges and threats to the satisfaction of their relationship. Often, it is difficult for them to see what is happening.
It is hard to be objective about emotional magnetism. However, feelings change and the appeal can fade when the reality of cross-cultural differences sets in. Relational harmony is threatened and spiritual harmony appears to be impossible.
If you’re a Gentile dating a Jew, or vice-versa, and these concerns seem familiar, you are not alone. In fact, you are very much in the majority of what’s happening in the American Jewish community. The fact is that 52% of all Jews who marry today are walking the aisle with a Gentile partner.
Emotional attraction is incredibly strong. It can be temporized and balanced with thoughtful consideration. A few simple diagnostic questions can be of help to see your way ahead for the future.
- With whom is my most important relationship? Which relationship is currently at the center of my life?
- Would marriage to this person threaten the survival of my people?
- Would marriage to this person help or hinder my relationship with God?
- Are my feelings for this person likely to be different ten years from now than they are today?
For more encouragement and thoughtful perspective on Jewish-Gentile couple relations, please contact us. Our desire is to help Jewish-Gentile couples find spiritual harmony amidst the cross-cultural differences and in a non-judgmental atmosphere.
Be happy, it’s Adar (the Jewish month of Purim). And a happy St. Patrick’s Day if you are wearing the green.