There's an article in today's Times about the increasing popularity of various Jewish wedding practices--principally the ketubah, or wedding contract, but also the huppah--among evangelical Christians. To be clear, we're not talking about interfaith marriages, where the two participants are trying to preserve and honor their respective traditions or combine them into a meaningful whole. These are Christians who may or may not know any actual Jews (the featured couple learned about the ketubah at the wedding of the bride's equally evangelical sister), but who are attracted to whatever they vaguely understand the "significance" or "symbolism" of these practices to be.
And I have to admit, my first reaction was to say, "Get your own fucking traditions! Or learn about the ones you have!" (And upon reflection, that's my second and third reaction, too.)
As someone who works on early Protestant literature, it always amuses me how much and how eagerly many contemporary Protestants are trying to undo the Reformation, or at least its most visible outward signs. When I lived in Harlem, I was astonished by how many churches gave out ashes on Ash Wednesday or held Good Friday services that seemed to incorporate something like the stations of the cross, and I always smile a little at those students who talk about Catholic "idolatry" while wearing crosses around their necks or carrying laminated pictures of Jesus in their wallets.
But while those things may be surprising, and some of them do display a questionable knowledge of history or of their own denomination's intellectual and spiritual underpinnings, others can be seen as a genuine effort, on the part of a congregation or denomination, to reclaim parts of their faith heritage.
What gets my goat is people whose religiosity is totally untethered to a coherent intellectual or theological tradition, but who think they can manufacture a tradition out of odds and ends taken from other people's. It's not so different from what pisses me off about those who think they're "creating their own traditions" with their precious, special, unique weddings.
You don't get to have it both ways. Either your spirituality is synthetic and free-floating, based only on whatever speaks to you personally, or it's firmly grounded in a particular tradition (which doesn't mean that it can't incorporate other elements or practices, or that it has to be orthodox in every particular). Both are reasonable ways to approach your spiritual life, but they're not the same thing.
If your Christian marriage doesn't provide you with what the female half of the featured couple calls "a permanent reminder of the covenant we made with God," it's worth asking yourself why. It's worth asking yourself why your own ceremonies don't feel sufficiently sacred--and why you think you're "miss[ing] out" when someone else's faith has traditions you don't share.
And with all due respect to Jenna Weissman Joselit, a historian who works on Jewish popular culture and is quoted in the article, I do not think that incorporating Jewish practices (such as holding their own Passover Seders or eating kosher food) provides Christians with "another level of authenticity or legitimacy."
If you don't already feel that your religion has authenticity or legitimacy, you're not going to be able to co-opt it from someone else's. Sorry.