I recently received the following comment in response to an old post. I want to emphasize that I can't imagine my parents would have this degree of venom, but I believe it is indicative of how intense the anti-intermarriage sentiment can be:
If a child chooses to marry out of Judaism and the jewish people-it is the child who is disowning the parents if the parents are so religious. If a child really loves his/her parents, then no way would they do something so hurtful as to stomp on the very soul of their parents' being.
That child is very self-focused on his or her own "happiness" over EVERYTHING else--come on that person couldnt find happiness with a Jewish mate? Just as I would love to try a treif porterhouse steak, I know that I shouldnt. Yeah, Im comparing finding a spouse to that. Even when I have found a girl to have a really attractive personality and great looks-if she wasnt Jewish I wouldnt pursue it. There is something greater than my self and that is Judaism and jewish survival and my family. Those "in love" feelings do eventually wane-but not my continued link in the jewish chain of history or any Jew's link for that matter. When she has a baby of her own, only she and her husband will feel the joy if the child is not a part of the jewish community-but if she married a Jew, the whole community would rejoice with her at the birth of a child. If each person is an island with no expected loyalty to anything or anyone beyond themselves, then I guess one would have a problem understanding why the parents would disown her for marrying out. SHE DISOWNED HER PARENTS FIRST AND RIPPED THEIR SOULS TO SHREDS>
Now, from my perspective, parents have no right to make demands on their children regarding marriage. Clearly, however, many parents feel differently. It's easy to say, "Well, that's their problem, then," but the anguish pointed to by this comment makes one pause. One of my biggest complaints about religion is how it makes otherwise completely unreasonable behavior seem somehow reasonable to people. Parents who think their kids are "disowning them" and "ripping their souls to shreds" simply by marrying the person of their choosing are, in one way of looking at it, completely insane. But by their own worldview, it's completely reasonable and even moral, so these parents (again, mine wouldn't be nearly this extreme) will do anything in their power, including extreme guilt trips, emotional and other manipulation, and who knows what else, to get their way. This is a classic example of why religion sucks. (Or can suck, to be fair.)
So my parents, from my perspective, are both factually incorrect in their beliefs about intermarriage (stemming as it does from Orthodox Judaism) and morally incorrect in their assertion that they should have broad veto power over my romantic choices. But still, if they feel even a tenth as strongly as the above commenter, do I have the right to simply ignore their feelings, misguided (in my opinion) as they are? If I were to marry a non-Jew and they were devastated, it would be fair to say (from my perspective) that their own irrational beliefs caused their anguish, and not my behavior. But the fact remains that I could avoid causing them anguish by not intermarrying.
Religion, she is a powerful and cunning memeplex. Once present in a brain, it compels not only its own host to bid its wishes, but also those who care about its host. It holds its host hostage, saying to those who care about the host, "If you disobey me, I will destroy your loved one."