I started this blog in part because my boyfriend and I have a problem. Because of our religious differences, it’s hard to figure out how we could make our relationship work out long term. The odds are uncomfortably high that, if he’s right about religion, I’m going straight to hell, and, if we ever ended up raising a family, my atheist influence could interfere with a proper Catholic upbringing, dooming my children and damning my boyfriend for playing fast and loose with his children’s souls.
It seems like our problems could only be solved by my converting to Christianity (which I can’t do as long as I honestly believe it to be untrue) or my boyfriend losing his faith or my boyfriend being converted to a more universalist soteriology (which would lower the stakes). We’ve been together for a year and a half hoping something will work out, and we love each other enough to gamble religion won’t force us to break up.
But then, at Mass yesterday, I got a wacky idea for a loophole.
At Palm Sunday services, the priest used part of the homily to give a gloss on Matthew 27:25, the verse in the Passion story where the crowd of Jews calls for Christ to be crucified and then declares “Let his blood be upon us and on our children!” The priest said that every year the Matthew text is used, he makes sure to explicate a verse, since many Catholics and other Christians have used the verse to justify brutal antisemitism. The priest explained that Christianity today does not hold Jews culpable for the death of Jesus.
He pointed to the post-Vatican II change in the Good Friday prayer for the Jews that is spoken by Catholics worldwide. The Church no longer prays for the conversion of the Jews. Instead, they pray:
Let us pray for the Jewish people, the first to hear the word of God, that they may continue to grow in the love of his name and in faithfulness to his covenant. Almighty and eternal God, long ago you gave your promise to Abraham and his posterity. Listen to your Church as we pray that the people you first made your own may arrive at the fullness of redemption
Many Catholics take this to mean that it is not necessary for Jews to convert to be saved; the covenant God made with Abraham still holds and they are saved as long as they keep it.
Now, here’s the kicker:
I just so happen to be the daughter of a woman who is the daughter of a woman… who is the daughter of a woman who was Jewish. My family hasn’t practiced Judaism for generations (we had the distinction of being kicked out of various Eastern European countries before general purges of Jews for the crime of being anti-monarchy), but according to Jewish law, I’m still technically a Jew.
What I’m wondering is: Would Catholicism would be satisfied if I just started keeping kosher?
I asked the priest after the service if my boyfriend could stop fearing for my soul if I started obeying the covenant, and the priest said it seemed plausible. (I asked him if the Catholic church had a preference between Reform/Conservative/Orthodox/Haredim, but he was at a loss). As far as I can tell from my Long Island childhood, it seems to be possible to be a rules-following Jew without believing in God.
So this does seem like a solution if our relationship persists to the point where the problem our religious differences becomes pressing. Does anyone know if this is actually acceptable to Catholics? It seems too surreal to be plausible.