For the first time in history, Steve Greenberg, an openly-gay American rabbi ordained by the Orthodox movement, has officiated at a same-sex wedding ceremony.
On Thursday night at Washington DC’s “Historic 6th and I Synagogue,” Greenberg stood under the chupah, a traditional Jewish wedding canopy, as newlyweds Yoni Bock and Ron Kaplan tied the knot before some two-hundred guests. Recognizing the unique – and controversial – moment, Greenberg’s voice notably cracked when near the end he stated, “By the power invested in me by the District of Columbia, I now pronounce you married.”
-by Roee Ruttenberg
“Orthodox rabbi marries gay couple in historic wedding in Washington, DC”
You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. –Leviticus 18:22
Warning. If this is a topic that pushes all your buttons, makes you see red, or otherwise causes you to lose all control of your emotions because you think homosexuality is a worse sin than murder, rape, bank robbery, embezzlement, and stealing from a five-year old’s piggy bank all rolled into one, then you should stop reading right now and either close your web browser or just move on to a different, more politically correct (religiously correct?) blog. End of disclaimer.
I probably shouldn’t do this. I probably shouldn’t write a blog on this topic. People tend to become horribly polarized about this sort of thing and it will most likely end up in a verbal bloodbath. On the other hand, I’m still trying to figure out how an Orthodox Rabbi could marry a same-sex couple. No, that’s not right. I know why, or at least part of “why”. The news story says so.
Greenberg is no stranger to controversy. He publicly admitted his sexuality following his ordination from an Orthodox rabbinical school, making him the first openly gay practicing Orthodox rabbi.
Greenberg gained notoriety following his role in the 2001 documentary by an American filmmaker, “Trembling Before G-d,” which portrayed the conflicts of gay and lesbian Orthodox Jews trying to reconcile their religious convictions and sexual orientations. After the films successful release, Greenberg traveled with director Sandi Simcha Dubowski, screening the film globally.
What I’m wondering is how Orthodox Judaism even remotely “fits” with homosexuality and same-sex marriage. If a Christian man had been ordained as a Fundamentalist Pastor and then announced that he was gay, I can only imagine his ordination would be yanked out from under him faster than he could blink. More than that, if he continued in his role of Pastor in a fundamentalist Christian church, I can’t possibly imagine he’d have much of a following, at least much of a traditionally conservative fundamentalist Christian following.
Shifting the context back to Orthodox Judaism, Rabbi Greenberg doesn’t seem to be having any of these problems. Well, not exactly.
While he (Greenberg) was warmly received by many (after publicly announcing that he was gay), his book, “Wrestling with God and Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition,” led him to be shunned by some in the Orthodox community and even by some gay and lesbian Orthodox Jews who felt his views did not align with Orthodox readings of Jewish law. His participation in Thursday’s ceremony will be viewed by some as a step that crosses a line of no return.
While a number of same-sex couples – many of them Jewish – have now married in US areas that recently legalized gay and lesbian unions, none were officiated by a rabbi who holds Orthodox ordination. The movement maintains a strict interpretation of Jewish law, including the biblical verse found in Leviticus 18 which refers to a man lying with another man as an abomination.
To be fair, this isn’t the first time Orthodox Judaism and same-sex marriage issues have appeared in the news. In a news item published at advocate.com, the Orthodox community pushed back against support of two men getting married, which is kind of what I’d expect to happen. Why didn’t it happen this time when Rabbi Greenberg married a same-sex couple in D.C.?
Perhaps there is some fallout yet to come from Rabbi Greenberg’s role in marrying Yoni Bock and Ron Kaplan. After all, this just happened last Thursday. But Greenberg has apparently been an Orthodox Rabbi and openly gay for years and as far as the source article goes, there doesn’t seem to be much of a problem.
I didn’t write this blog to bash gays or to bash the Orthodox or to bash anyone. I wrote it to try and understand how this apparent dissonance can not only occur but subsist over time. I know that Rabbinic interpretation of Torah can reveal details that are not readily apparent on the surface, but how do you, especially in an Orthodox context, reconcile Leviticus 18:22 with performing a ceremony joining two men in a Jewish marriage?
OK, this would not be such as head-scratcher if the wedding ceremony were officiated by a Reform, Reconstructionist, and even (lately) Conservative Rabbi, but an Orthodox Rabbi and one who is openly gay?
I don’t get it.
I’m tempted to think it’s an application of the following, but somehow, I don’t think it’s true.
Intolerance lies at the core of evil. Not the intolerance that results from any threat or danger. Not the intolerance that arises from negative experience. Just intolerance of another being who dares to exist, who dares to diminish the space in the universe left for you. Intolerance without cause.
It is so deep within us, because every human being secretly desires the entire universe to himself. Our only way out is to learn compassion without cause. To care for each other simply because that ’other’ exists.
-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
Based on letters and talks of the Rebbe
Rabbi M. M. Schneerson
I don’t think that gay marriage or intolerance of homosexuality in the Orthodox community is what Rabbi Freeman was writing about. I don’t think (but who am I to know) that the Rebbe would have supported an Orthodox Rabbi being openly gay and performing a same-sex wedding ceremony. The mixing of Orthodox Judaism and free acceptance of gay marriage just does not compute.
On the other hand, I’ve spent a lot of blogging time trying to figure out how or if the very significant differences between Christianity and Judaism can be reconciled and made to live peacefully and even productively with each other. Can these two situations somehow be compared? If the relationship between Christianity and Judaism can flex over time, is it possible that Orthodox Judaism’s viewpoint of Leviticus 18:22 can flex, too?
Before someone says it in a comment, I know the classic response to these questions is to say that there is no question. Sin is sin and Rabbi Greenberg is sinning, both by being gay and by using the authority of his Rabbinic standing to marry two men. I also know someone is (probably) going to say that they “hate the sin but love the sinner.” I realize these are the answers we’ve been taught to produce, but it doesn’t actually address what you do with human beings. When you meet a gay person, do you automatically start shaking your finger at him or her and cry “Sinner, repent” in their face? If your brother or nephew, or daughter has a friend and you all go out to dinner together, when it pops out that the friend is gay (you can have a friend who is gay and just be friends), how do you respond?
I’m know I’m asking a lot questions. Stereotypes and gut reactions aside, when you are face to face with a gay person, as a person of faith, how do you deal with that? When you hear about or meet someone who apparently is deeply religious and loves God but lives a lifestyle that, in one single dimension, goes against everything you’ve been taught is right, true, and holy, what do you do with it? Whoever administers the ordination for Rabbi Greenberg hasn’t stopped him from practicing as an Orthodox Rabbi. There are gay people who, even knowing exactly how Orthodox Judaism thinks and feels about homosexuality, nevertheless, choose to practice and adhere to (except for that one dimension) Orthodox halacha rather than shifting to a more liberal form of religious Judaism.
This isn’t a matter of gays in a liberal synagogue or a liberal church. This is, or perhaps just seems to be, the start of acceptance of human beings into Orthodox Judaism who previously would have been shunned. Is the world just disintegrating morally or are we at the intersection of our faith and the realization that gay people are also people?
I don’t know what to do with this. The comments section is now open. Please be polite or at least civil, but what do you think?
43 thoughts on “At the Intersection of Intolerance and Humanity”
It will be interesting to know what the Orthodox community holds to a greater sin, an Orthodox Rabbi believing in “oto Haish” or an Orthodox Rabbi who perform same sex marriages?
Dan, I think we know the answer. If he started believing in and teaching about “oto ha-Ish”, his congregants would shun him.
“Whoever administers the ordination for Rabbi Greenberg hasn’t stopped him from practicing as an Orthodox Rabbi.”
Let me take a not-so-wild guess: Yeshivat Chovevei Torah.
I agree that it’s an interesting question and I wonder how it would be answered.
Just remember everyone, I didn’t blog on this topic to create “open season” on the Orthodox anymore than I did for the LGBT community.
I read a great article by Shmuley Boteach on this a while back. Here it is: http://www.shmuley.com//news/details/my_jewish_perspective_on_homosexuality/
You may have something there, Andrew: Yeshivat Chovevei Torah About Us page.
The Shmuley Boteach article is very illuminating, Andrew. Rabbi Boteach isn’t always what I think of as a completely “regular” Orthodox Rabbi relative to his activities with the media, so I don’t know if he speaks for the Orthodox community as a whole. If he does, then this quote is an eye-opener (and I wish I had read this story before publishing this blog post):
Some people of faith insist that homosexuality is gravely sinful because the Bible calls it an “abomination.” But that word appears approximately 122 times in the Bible. Eating nonkosher food is an “abomination” (Deuteronomy 14:3). A woman returning to her first husband after being married in the interim is an “abomination” (Deuteronomy 24:4). Bringing a blemished sacrifice on God’s altar is an abomination (Deuteronomy 17:1). Proverbs goes so far as to label envy, lying and gossip “an abomination to [the Lord]” (3:32, 16:22).
As an orthodox Rabbi, I do not deny the biblical prohibition on male same-sex relationships. I simply place it in context. There are 613 commandments in the Torah. One is to refrain from gay sex. Another is for men and women to marry and have children. So when Jewish gay couples tell me they have never been attracted to members of the opposite sex and are desperately alone, I tell them, “You have 611 commandments left. That should keep you busy. Now, go create a kosher home. Turn off the TV on the Sabbath and share your meals with many guests. Pray to God three times a day for you are his beloved children. He desires you and seeks you out.”
Nonetheless, R. Boteach would not approve of this. This is beyond the pale of halakha.
I understand that, but look at what he’s saying and how it compares to his example of Pat Robertson. For fundamentalist Christianity (and most other versions), homosexuality is a complete showstopper. If you’re gay and living that lifestyle, don’t even bother walking into a church. On the other hand, what Boteach is saying is that being gay isn’t great, but it’s not a 100% disaster either. It’s like watching TV on the Shabbat or eating ham and eggs for breakfast. Not wonderful, but God won’t totally throw you in the cosmic trashcan, either.
“You have 611 commandments left. That should keep you busy. Now, go create a kosher home. Turn off the TV on the Sabbath and share your meals with many guests. Pray to God three times a day for you are his beloved children. He desires you and seeks you out.”
Sorry to repeat the quote, but it really blows me away. I didn’t expect him to say that.
IMHO people tend to toss arround orthodox to much. I hear non Jewish Christians saying they practice orthodox Judaism. The actions and behaviors of a person make them what they are. This man is not orthodox by definition. It’s a farse. I’m nit saying anything about sin or right or wrong it’s just like me saying you only eat kosher and then take a bite out of a bacon cheeseburger. People who give in to this idea that someone can BE gay/les. also IMHO make the mistake of implying that it is part of who someone is. To a degree someone who runs is a “runner” but that’s not all they are. What I mean is If that person lost their legs in an accident could they still run? So also homosexuality is limited to the activity. People have made it an all consuming identity that to me is the error.
I guess that’s what I get for typing and driving! Sorry for my above comment it wasn’t very clear. What I meant was; orthodox Judaism is what it is, because of halakha. People that live according to that standard are “orthodox” by definition. A person who practices homosexual acts is merely that, there is no such thing as a “gay person” only “gay” activity. There is halakha for non-jews and because the word “orthodox” seems to carry a certain weight of authority people who actualy don’t fit into that category want to claim it for themselves by subversion. Unless you are converting then a non-Jew by halakha is not supposed to keep commands that are for Jews. I know one man who converted and the Rabbi had him strike a match on Shabbas until he was converted. I’m not saying that’s right or it’s what HaShem wants I don’t claim to to know that. I’m just saying orthodox Judaism is what it is, and everybody wants to use that title to claim some sort of authentication. What i meant in my sloppy post was that Non-Jews are not Jews, and according to orthodox halakha their observance is different. Orthodox Jews that practice homosexual acts are no longer orthodox!
First off I know Rabbi Steve, i met him actually during the release of “Trembling.” He is a fine man, that davens at his local CHABAD shul, thats right, he davens with a full haredi shul. this issue of his Smicha is one is simple, your ordination is not revoked any more than your “degree” is revoked. he is not a congregational rabbi, but he has earn the right at title of HaRav according to the proper studies and halachic ordination. plain and simple. we are not catholics who go around revoking and annuling peoples marriages,and even your children’s births and baptisms from church record to get remarried for instance.
secondly, i can understand why a person who tried to justify Christianity in light of Judaism messes up on the atmosphere of the jewish community regarding this; our halachic lives are theoretical and a mental practice only. those of us who live in it have to consider things differently. for ANY person we would try to mitigate a situation of turning them away to total moral-less living. even in Frum communities we dont shun the intermarried men from coming our minyans and davening or exclude them anyway. we wont stop them for doing a mitzvah because Judaism is about one mitzvah at a time, its not all or nothing. too long great rabbis have stood back on a issue of homosexuality and said they accept people but dont tackle the issue of what to next because someone smarter and with bigger clout is going to settle the issue at some point; at that point we will have to give. how do we know? because despite people who live in glass bottled mental view understand halacha has to change according to sound reason. even marriage has be influenced by outside culture, Rav Gershon banned polygamy which is biblically and rabbinically acceptable because of social pressure of the Catholic church. but this time the issue is not pressure, Steve is rising to the occasion of officiating according to the law of the land according to his true conviction.
we all know how this issues is going to be dealt with in halacha, the major thinkers that deal with halacha have already told us as much. at some point people are going to have to admit that this is an issue of “ohnes” meaning duress, that one cannot be held accountable for something that it outside of their control; this being their sexuality. that is why EVERY frum rabbi makes the issue of “if its a choice” or if your “wall to wall gay” (entirely, completely). because if there is a will in the matter, only then can it be considered a sin. for far too long people have been in the established jewish world, dedicated jewish souls that just were not taken seriously. for many its time that this end, and throwing people to a hostile world that will destroy their souls.
quite a discussion, i had not heard about this until your MM, James.
to ponder: How come gay people almost always let us know right off the bat they are gay? Do robbers announce right off the bat to everyone around they have robbed and maybe even still are robbing? (hold on to your purse/wallet!!!!) do rapists? it is true, sin is sin, and all sins are equal, and if we break just one commandment, Scripture tells us, we break them all….
it is not a hard thing at all for any sincere God-loving person to accept anyone and i mean anyone at all on human terms, God gives us His Spirit for that.But if the person right off the bat tells you something about his/her lifestyle (any of the above sins will do…) they have immediately erected a wall, drawn a sword, thrown down a gauntlet, whatever…and then we have to adjust our gears and re-act on another level. by God’s grace it will be with tact, Holy Spirit power and words and actions.
All the abominations listed in Scripture that have been pointed out are associated with Death (though some are easier to figure out from a mortal point of view). That is why they are abominations. L’Chaim, LIFE, AND the God and Messiah Who made Life and are Life, is the path we want to follow. That is why God warns us to shun death-producing things. Homosexuality is death because from a lustful union no life, none at all, can ever come. it is a biological impossibility. There is a big difference between a married couple who desires children but can’t have them biologically and those (christian or jewish) who by their own choice do not want children.
To Life! on all levels. it brings lasting joy not just transient pleasure.
I’m tired but want to leave a comment before you get too many more. 🙂 I’m also saying this as someone who has met Steve Greenberg and likes him a lot.
Echoing Michael and Shmu:
1. There’s no such thing as rescinding someone’s smicha, but if there was, perhaps Rabbi Greenberg’s would have been.
2. The fact that Rabbi Greenberg calls himself Orthodox and prays at an Orthodox minyan and has Orthodox smicha does not mean that everyone agrees he still IS Orthodox, or that this was an Orthodox wedding.
The article may be correct that this was the first gay wedding performed by a rabbi with Orthodox Smicha, but whether it was the first gay wedding performed by an Orthodox Rabbi is up for debate; Steve Greenberg and his followers say he is Orthodox, his detractors in the Orthodox establishment say he is not. The copy editor of the story you linked to believes this wedding was “historic”; others might say it is no different from gay marriages performed by Conservative, Reform or Reconstructionist rabbis.
And now it’s time for sleep!
“How come gay people almost always let us know right off the bat they are gay? Do robbers announce right off the bat to everyone around they have robbed and maybe even still are robbing? (hold on to your purse/wallet!!!!) do rapists?”
While all three things you mentioned are sinful by Torah standards, only the latter two things injure a third party. Homosexual intercourse is a violation of the divine will, but it is not like robbery in the moral sense of ruining somebody else’s life. And equating homosexuality with rape is terribly ignorant. If I know one thing about God, it is that He would not be happy with your comparison.
“it is true, sin is sin, and all sins are equal”
So murder is equivalent to eating shrimp in God’s eyes? That is insane. Differentiation between the severity of sins is right there in the written Torah, in the form of different punishments for different sins.
I’m sorry, but you obviously need to ask about this from somebody that has been trained in interpreting Torah, not simply winging your own interpretation with the naive belief that “The Spirit” is always guiding you to the right conclusion. Torah itself condemns this as “following your own heart and your own eyes.” Try asking a rabbi or two to put this issue in proper perspective for you.
“and if we break just one commandment, Scripture tells us, we break them all….”
I’d love to get a quote from the Bible that says breaking one commandment is the same as breaking all of them. It doesn’t work that way. Maybe conservative Christianity, seeing things in black and white, has mishandled Torah as you do, but Judaism has always taken a nuanced approach. The Levitical sacrificial system existed precisely to expiate only the sins a person has actually committed (knowingly or unknowingly). On Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, one only atones for the sins actually committed in order to MERIT God’s favor, not for being an absolutely depraved sinner. Peter and James certainly did not think as you do. And while Paul taught about justification by faith and some kind of “original sin,” (Romans 5:12-21) he did not believe as you do, either. I mean, it is logically untenable to believe that committing one sin is equivalent to every sin, continue observing Torah as the standard of Godly living (as Paul did) while knowing you will invariably break that standard. In your view, accidentally eating something unclean is the same as intentional murder. In that case, what good is the standard in the first place? Yet Paul did not cease keeping Torah.
Wow. Lots of interesting comments in my absence. This is actually what I was hoping for when I wrote this particular blog post. I really am trying to comprehend how to reconcile (or if we can reconcile) the events described in the original news story.
@Sarah: Welcome and thank you for commenting. You make a good point about the difference between Rabbi Greenberg possessing an Orthodox smicha and whether or not the larger Orthodox community actually views him as Orthodox. I appreciate you taking the time and effort to share your views and hope you come back and say more.
@”Shmu the Jew”: I’m glad you came by and expressed your views. I really want this blog (and particularly this blog post) to “speak” to a wide variety of people and to inspire reasoned and empassioned responses. As you can tell, I have much to learn in many areas and I appreciate you giving me the benefit of your experiences and insights. I also really liked this:
“even in Frum communities we dont shun the intermarried men from coming our minyans and davening or exclude them anyway. we wont stop them for doing a mitzvah because Judaism is about one mitzvah at a time, its not all or nothing. too long great rabbis have stood back on a issue of homosexuality and said they accept people but dont tackle the issue of what to next…”
Since, for the most part, I’m on the outside looking in, there’s a lot I could miss in understanding both Orthodox Judaism (and it certainly seems as if this is not a completely uniform community) and homosexuality (I’m about as straight as they come) and how (or if) they intersect. It also seems as if Judaism is “evolving” over time, so it’s not unreasonable to believe that Rabbi Greenberg being an openly gay Orthdox Rabbi might represent a small step toward evental change in the larger Orthodox world.
Please feel free to come by again and comment, even if it’s just to point out my mistakes (or perhaps especially to point out my mistakes).
@Louise: This sort of conversation is where we see the differences between how Judaism and Christianity views the Bible. In English, we can all read the text and it seems to say the same thing to everyone, at least on the surface. However as we delve into interpretations, both personal and corporate, we see some startling differences. One difference is the quote I posted from Rabbi Boteach earlier in the comments section. I honestly had no idea that he’d say what he did, but it mirrors what Shmu mentioned about Judaism being “about one mitzvah at a time.”
Although I’ve changed quite a bit religiously, socially, and politically in the past 25 years or so, as a religious person today, it has continued to bother me that gay people say, almost uniformly, that they were “born that way”. I still can’t reconcile how God could make homosexual behavior a sin and yet allow people to be born “wired” to be attracted to same-sex mates. I’ve considered homosexuality to have a psychopathological component, but the evidence isn’t that clear. Christianity pretty much condemns not only homosexual behavior but gay people themselves out of hand and I can’t help but see the parallels between that, and how historically, Christianity has also shunned the Jews.
If a man having sex with another man is an abomination, what do we do about it? In Christianity, it’s all or nothing. They either obey everything the Bible says or they’ve failed at everything. In Judaism, at least as stated in these comments, it’s not quite that clear cut. I’m not saying that it’s all cool and no worries about being gay, but I don’t believe the matter is as simple as the plain meaning of the text indicates either. There is much to be considered and I’d rather err on the side of compassion than condemnation. I’m not saying that you are being condemning. I’m just trying to clarify my position.
@Andrew: Here’s the scripture:
“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” –James 2:10
That’s the verse where Christians get the idea that if you break one commandment, you’ve broken them all, assuming you are commanded to keep the law in the first place. It also seems to fly in the face of how 21st century Judaism views keeping the mitzvot, particularly as described by Shmu.
I must admit that I struggle with the idea of sin being an absolute. I have often throught of people who view various sins in relative terms as trying to excuse their own disobedience as “not that bad”. Kind of like an embezzler defending himself by saying that at least he’s not a murderer. It still doesn’t make embezzling right and it’s certainly not harmless. On the other hand, how does God see the difference between a Jew eating a ham sandwich and driving on the Shabbat vs. a Jew who has sex with his mother-in-law, beats his wife, and steals from the tzedakah box? For that matter how does God see the difference between a Gentile who cheats on this taxes vs. one who drives drunk, hits and severely injures a pedestrian, and drives away without stopping?
I hear what you (and others) are saying about the difference between sins against God and sins against other people but that’s still difficult for me to swallow. When David had an affair with Bathsheva and murdered her husband so David could marry her when she became pregnant, he said that he had sinned against God and God alone (Psalm 51:4).
@Everyone: I wish I knew what all this means, but sometimes one good question and the conversation it inspires is worth 10,000 canned answers. I didn’t create this blog to play it safe and to advocate only the well-established religious commentaries we’ve all been fed. If we don’t question our assumptions and the assumptions of those people who are in “religious authority”, both past and present, how can we learn to understand what God is saying? I know that Judaism interprets the Torah through the lens of tradition, but Judaism, like Christianity, also evolves its interpretations and understanding. The problem we have in that developmental process, is keeping grounded in what is right while at the same time, continually re-evaulating what it means to do justice and mercy.
still an intgeresting discussion……oh boy….
Probably it is helpful to say that i do not live by Torah alone. i try to live by Tanakh and the New Covenant/Testament as well, Genesis to Revelation, so that prob. explains some of my ‘perspective’.
Not being born into a formally religious familly, not having been in what are called (stereotypically) christian/conservative circles (sometimes unfairly stereotyped because the pastor of such a congregation is not necessarily a cookie cutter copy of the fundamentalist -conservative-evangelical pastor in the next town…) and having come to Messiah/Saviour/Jesus originally for forgivness for personal sins and knowing that reality and Love; then, finding out rather later in life that i had been born to a Jewish mother, has been an interesting journey for me. As such, i have appreciated all the helps i have gotten from Messianic Jews in understanding ‘Yeshua in Context” (thank you, DL, author) and early on Ariel Ministries. Not all these ministries or leaders of the ministries see eye to eye on every issue; rather they would agree and disagree on some issues like good rabbis and pastors do, but most of them are not alienated from one another when they are first and foremost seeking God’s Kingdom first and when striving for unity of the Spirit.
Andrew, very often homosexuality does injure a third party…some of the cases i know of personally involve married men, who for one reason or another were seduced by other men into homosexual relationships that broke up their marrriages and have presented terrible emotional turmoil for their wives and children and the parents/in-laws, etc . Perhaps these men succumbed in weak moments, perhaps some were just more prone to temptation …just like men or women who end up in heterosexual adulterous relationships. But as mentioned in my earlier response, sin is sin is sin. What appears to me, a mortal, like a less-harmful abomination like remarrying a former wife, might really be more Death-producing than i realize, but there is where i trust God. Same reason i trust him to be the One to be the Final judge in all things because i cannot trace the trail of where a sin begins and where it ends up and who is truly to ‘blame.’
this is the end of the trail for me. Happy trails to you….and Shalom.
Louise, you are appreciated as always.
“Probably it is helpful to say that i do not live by Torah alone. i try to live by Tanakh and the New Covenant/Testament as well, Genesis to Revelation, so that prob. explains some of my ‘perspective’.”
This is beside the point, but while Yeshua did indeed come to usher in a New Covenant prophesied by Jeremiah, that terminology is not synonymous with the collection of scriptures most know as the New Testament. Apostolic Writings is the best neutral term I know of. See: http://www.messianicjudaism.me/musings/2011/10/26/new-testament-apostolic-writings-class-coming/
“Not being born into a formally religious familly, not having been in what are called (stereotypically) christian/conservative circles ”
I share that background with you.
“Andrew, very often homosexuality does injure a third party…some of the cases i know of personally involve married men, who for one reason or another were seduced by other men into homosexual relationships that broke up their marrriages and have presented terrible emotional turmoil for their wives and children and the parents/in-laws, etc .”
Well, in that case, you’re also talking about adultery.
“But as mentioned in my earlier response, sin is sin is sin. What appears to me, a mortal, like a less-harmful abomination like remarrying a former wife, might really be more Death-producing than i realize, but there is where i trust God.”
I am of the opinion that humans, being of the image of God, can discern these things somewhat (not perfectly). Only God knows the full repercussions of any sin, but the best of our intuition counts for something.
Maybe a reason some people (be they jewish or christian or whatever) sometimes have a hard time reconciling an openly lesbian/gay who also is religious in any way is because of the issue of teshuva, or repentance if you wish. In other words, no not all sins are equal, gossip, envy, anger, murder, rape and homosexuality is not all the same. So why can you be envious and religious and not a loving homosexual? maybe because gossip, or anger or envy may come without ourselves noticing it. Or at least we acknowledge when we err. When we do teshuva, we confess it and resolve not to do it anymore. The problem, I think most people have, with homosexuals is not so much as an intolerance to the person, or even to the sin, but maybe to the fact that it is a sin too dear to repent of. Yes, you have 611 more mitzvas to do, but what do you do on Yom Kippur? Do you confess it? Do you resolve not to do it? or is it an ok sin because a homosexual orthodox rabbi married me? Maybe that’s why there hasn’t been a unified decision on what to do with homosexuality in religious circles. See, we don’t want to reject them more than another because of that sin, but the problem is if you say it is ok, or at least tolerated, what happens to teshuva? We tolerate many imperfections, we acknowledge our failures (homosexuality ought to be viewed as such) but what happens when we do not want to let go of our failures (be they anything else not just homosexuality)? We have a problem.
As to whether they are born this way. I too find it difficult to believe that the Creator would forbid such an act, yet create some people that way. Yet at the same time I believe we can see a parallel with us (strait ones). God forbade promiscuity, yet I can say I was born with a tendency to want to have sex with any pretty woman I see (if i could). Still that would not excuse me from living a life of promiscuity, even if I am honestly born this way. It does not make it any easier for me. I wish I could, and still do the rest of the mitzvas, yet I could not in good conscience live that way and still get up in the morning to do tefilá. So yes it’s a hard thing to say to a homosexual, God forbids this, it may seem cruel, but for the promiscuous person it is just as hard and just as ‘unloving’ to let go of his sin. See it is not about proclaiming our superiority over homosexuals, I may not be strong enough at one moment in life and fall (this is why king Solomon warns us against women), and if a man has a homosexual tendency, I do not pretend that it will be easier for him to resist (though it is hard for me to understand how a man may feel no attraction for a woman), yet I would expect him and myself to do our utmost to correct our error and rectify our paths. For me it is an issue of loving God more than our impulses. In order to live a pure life sexually, I must love God more than my love of women. I must love God so much that I may be able to say no to a woman simply because God asks that of me, even though every fiber of my body says yes.
In the secular world, at least ideally, sexual orientation is considered value-neutral. In a perfect secular world, being straight or being gay would be equal and both orientations would be normalized in terms of societal expectations for romantic and sexual relationships.
In the religious world, it’s more complicated because, by definition, a man having sex with another man is considered a sin. However, even Rabbi Boteach’s response (there are still 611 commandments left) doesn’t “really” define sex between two men as sinful because, as you say, there’s no regret attached due to “being born that way”. Gay religious people, at least in terms of this conversation and drawing from previously posted material, don’t see sex between two men as a sin that must be repented at Yom Kippur nor, as you say, do they apparently strive to overcome their sin because of the idea that they are “wired” to be gay, just as straight people are “wired” to be straight. Otherwise, how could Rabbi Greenberg have, in all clear conscience, officiated at the wedding of two men. But if the married couple, let alone the gay Rabbi who married them, consider the “sinful lifestyle” as normal and healthy, what do you do with Leviticus 16:22?
JD, you bring up a very good point. No one in this dynamic is denying the reality of Leviticus 16:22, they’re just saying that, best case scenario, that being gay does not have to exclude you from a Jewish religious life or prevent you from having a relationship with God. However, homosexuality, as a sin, is being treated differently than every other sin that could be committed as defined in the Torah.
Here’s another way to look at it. Let’s say that a single Jewish man frequents prostitutes in order to satisfy his sexual and emotional desires. Having sex outside of marriage is considered victimless since no one gets hurt, but it is still a sin. It is one thing for this man to frequent prostitutes, regret it, authentically try to stop, fail, and repent on Yom Kippur, and quite another thing for him to behave as if there is no sin in frequenting prostitutes. This fellow in the latter example, may even attempt through a political process, to make prostitution legal and normalize the use of prostitutes as a legitimate “relationship” (exchanging money for sex is the condition of the relationship).
I admit it’s not a perfect analogy, but it fits the primary condition attributed to homosexuality in that it’s defined as a sin in Torah yet has no victims since both parties are consenting and receiving mutual benefit. The prostitution example lacks the commitment and romantic aspects attributed to gay people being married so, as I said, the analogy isn’t perfect, but it does give us something to consider.
It seems as if Rabbi Boteach’s response is tolerant and on the border of approving, but it stops short because the definition of two men having sex (whether legally married or not) is still considered sin by Torah. Boteach said that he couldn’t condone marriage between a same-sex couple because it violates his definition (presumably based on Torah) of marriage.
The other factor previously mentioned (and I should bring it up again) is whether or not the gay person has any attraction to the opposite sex or has ever had any attraction to the opposite sex. If he has, then it seems he is obligated to pursue a non-sinful sexual relationship with the opposite sex (I suppose this would apply to Jews who consider themselves bisexual). However, if the gay person has never ever been attracted to a woman, not even once, and is desperately lonely without a same-sex companion, a gay relationship is seen differently and rather than condemn the person to a life of isolation and lovelessness, the gay relationship is tacitly condoned. The concept of it being sinful is considered of lesser importance relative to the person having to be without a companion for the rest of his life because of his religious convictions and the values of his religious group.
I keep turning this over in my head again and again and the only conclusion I keep coming up with is that, for Orthodox Judaism or any religious institution that includes Leviticus as part of its authoritative scriptural text, to be OK with performing gay marriages means redefining the nature of the sexual sin as stated in Leviticus 16:22. As you say JD, for all other sins, a Jew is to confess before God on Yom Kippur and repent. But here, no one is advocating for repenting of a gay relationship, especially if they are advocating for gay marriages.
For those of you who accept gay marriage, particularly within the framework of Orthodox Judaism, can you shed some light on this conundrum?
Yeah I see what you mean. It seems like the only way to circumvent Leviticus 16.22. I mean, I’m not saying being gay is as sinful as committing murder. Yet one may still argue that even if it is not a sin, no one can say it is not a negative mitzvah. It would be a sort of sin of ‘omission’, of not fulfilling a mitzvah when we could. On the other hand one may argue that if a person is really wired that way it may be a mitzvah not possible for that person to fulfill (?). I guess that is the way Rabbi Boteach puts it. Either way, it is true that it is not sufficient to exclude someone from religious life. As for justifying the act, that seems to be an entirely different issue.
Interesting we should be having this conversation just now, JD.
Just read an article at jweekly.com called Author presents a clear winner in ‘God vs. Gay’. Author and observant Jew Jay Michaelson says that the Hebrew word for “abomination” in Leviticus 16:22 is misunderstood and poorly translated.
As a prime example, he cites the Hebrew word toevah, commonly translated from Leviticus 18:22 as “abomination” in reference to gay sex.
It does not mean that at all, Michaelson said. It refers to certain sexual practices in the context of idolatry, and not to stable, loving, same-sex relationships.
The preponderance of scriptural emphasis, he said, is on love and building loving relationships.
He also says that there is an “evolutionary” (my word, not Michaelson’s) process happening in the Orthodox community relative to homosexuality.
As an observant Jew, he knows many in the Orthodox community do not take kindly to his message, but he says things are changing.
“By an Orthodox pace, things are moving really fast,” Michaelson said in an interview. “It’s a community working through their issues. It’s sometimes frustrating, but it wouldn’t be Orthodox if they waved a magic wand and [declared] a whole new reading of Torah. If Orthodoxy stands for anything, it’s not about ignorance or burying heads in the sand.”
One possible flaw I can see at first blush is that, assuming Leviticus 16:22 has been interpreted as forbidding homosexual relationships in the same way for thousands of years, how can we now say there was a translation problem? Of course, as the article says, Michaelson is a student of Torah and other Jewish texts who works on behalf of sexual minorities in religious communities. The author of four books and a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, he is an associate editor at Religion Dispatches magazine and a founding editor of Zeek magazine, and in 2009 he was included on the “Forward 50” list of new generation Jewish leaders, so who am I to talk?
Michaelson is himself gay and religious and the article describes his own conflicts in this matter.
That was true for Michaelson, who warred with himself for years before coming out. He couldn’t reconcile his feelings of homosexuality with the religious teachings he had come to believe.
But one day while hiking in Israel (on Mount Sodom, to add to the irony) he had an awakening. As he tells it, he said to God, “I’ve tried it your way, I’ve tried repressing for too long and I’ve had enough. Now it’s going to be my way, and I hope that’s OK. If not, too bad.”
Is this a case of a guy would could only reconcile his sexual feelings and his religious convictions by reinventing a Hebrew translation or is he one of the leaders of an developmental initiative in Orthodox Judaism to bring a clearer understanding of God on the issue of gays? I think the jury is still out in Orthodox Judaism. I’m not sure about anywhere else.
It is true that I too would find it difficult to believe that for thousands of years all the sages got it wrong. Tradition usually is something handed down form generations, so I doubt it was there all the time and we just missed it. Of course, it is not to say that there cannot be a new tradition, but as you say the jury is still out…
Regardless of the outcome of the debate, at least we are fulfilling the mitzvah of studying Torah 😉
“Regardless of the outcome of the debate, at least we are fulfilling the mitzvah of studying Torah “
That much is certainly true, JD.
Okay, so it’s generally my rule to stay out of discussions related to other religions, its not my business. However, when it comes to this I think I gotta make an exception to the rule. I think there are a few misconception about what Orthodox Judaism is. When people start ranting about what is going on in the orthodox movement my brain generally shuts off immediately, but that is cue one they aren’t orthodox. Orthodoxy is not a movement, its a designation, one given to Jews who choose not to Reform or take on humanist tones. This title reflects what Reform Judaism in Germany felt about traditional Judaism in generically titling traditional religion so. He traditional Jews chosen their own genus title it would have made more sense to say Orthopraxy (right practice), as Orthodoxy (right belief) has little use to us. Where as there is a Union of Reform Judaism and the United Synagogue (Conservative), there is no such thing as the orthodox home-office because there is no head. Everyone who keeps traditional Judaism and holds by Jewish law is orthodox, because we do not believe we are post-halacha or we are autonomous regarding it. Because there is no hierarchy, there cannot be uniformity nor is there the desire to have such. The only reason uniformity comes into consideration is now in terms of the State of Israel, but even the chief rabbinate is a fluke and foreign concept imposed on us by the British Mandate, in the same manner they have the ceremonial bishop of Canterbury for civil and state purposes; but this is historically irrelevant, and unjustified in terms of Jewish tradition.
In the absence of hierarchy what define us as Torah-true Jews is our adherence to Torah and Jewish law. There is no official membership that makes one orthodox, it is defined by ones practice. Rabbis far and wide accept gay people and their partners, this was not widely so about a decade ago, but it has since changed very quickly as years and years have past and people have continuously shown their dedication to keep their faith in spire of obstacles and the occasional hostility. The truth is more people want to be open, more people want to affirm gays and lesbians but cannot because if they show any leniency regarding this then it means they are “acting liberal” and jeopardizing their immaterial orthodox status.
A decade ago I would have criticized Steve for this one, sad but true. I would have said “he’s pushing too far” or “hes going to alienate people.” But really what I would have been saying was for him to sit down and be quiet so that the rest of us pretend there isn’t a problem. Sadly I like a lot of people would have card more about looking orthodox, than doing what was right. I would have been afraid of the consequences. Its too late to stand idly by, we know better at this point in time that gay’s and lesbians are valuable members of society that are not a threat to us in any way.
Lastly, I have to try to contain my anger at the ignorance that is spewed about how terrible gays are for splitting up marriages, living in lasciviousness and such. The sad reality is that the people who talk this junk are generally part of religious groups that cause this mess; thats right, CAUSE IT. In Christianity the ignorance is blatant, name-and-claim that your healed and then get married; this is what Exodus International and the major churches encourage, your “normal” so just try marriage and you will see. What it really is just cheaply hidden way of doing what our own Jewish culture and other Mediterranean groups have done “just get married, have some kids, then it doesn’t matter that you do then.” Just “discharge” your responsibility to reproduce. What people fail to realize is your forcing someone into something that is unnatural and that is not appropriate, you are setting them up for failure and the repercussions are grave. Very grave. Consider the the wive, consider the children born to these experimental families, the heartache that is caused, the same when the charade cannot be maintained. Its even more grave in the closeknit frum communities, what type of stigma hangs over that wife and children afterwards. People almost don’t want to touch them because people who will protest with signs that people are not born gay will not take any changes and have even one of their distant relatives marry someone from a family that has a gay member because “they gotta get it for somewhere.” Next time someone tells a gay person they are normal and just confused, ask your self if you want them marrying your child or grandchild and experimenting to find out.
One of the thing about gay the moving forward towards gay marriage is that for some of us religious people the concept that equality comes equal responsibility is paramount. From the affirming liberals for the most part gays have been given a free pass to do what ever one wants, that is what we are up against on the other end. We do not stand for that. Its time for us to stand up and offer real solutions to people.
our rabbis changed and circumventing the legal mandate of debt relief (a biblical mandate), rejecting slavery (biblically allowed), rejecting the biblical prohibition on not including the handicapped (including the deaf and blind) a part of the kehillah (a biblical prohibition) for purposes of minyan. lets not be foolish. lets admit it, the hiloni and liberals believe the myth of unchanging halacha more than jews who actually choose to live in it, if you live by it you need solutions and not just rhetoric. if halacha is so static that really defies the entire reason we have our body of legal works to begin with.
But the reason that law has to be reinterpreted is not because there was a mistranslation, it reinterpreted because we need to apply it to the times in which we live. If the Torah was unbending inflexible we would have ceased to have been a people a long time ago. I have to as conservative Bible readers who are not Jewish, please look back at yourselves and realize your guys are more legalistic that us Jews, putting out of mind the purpose of the law in order to guilt people under the letter of the law.
Example, when Hillel circumvented debt relief in accordance with the sabbatical year it was because the law no longer serve the purpose that it was intended for; to help the needy. Instead it had become an obstacle, keeping nervous lenders from lending money and causing out of control dept and economic decline. The law as it could be applied in our day went against the value for which it was attended, so we needed to change in order to be in line with a better society and for the needs of the individual.
Secondly, lets us not forget that intent is everything. For instance we have a prohibition against mixing milk and meat. However it is well known according to the halacha at if a bit of milk drops into a pot of meat for instance, it is allowed if it is less than 1/50th of a part and it was unintentional, it dropped it. However, if it was added for any reason intentional such as taste no matter what the amount of the mixture put in it then the entire thing is trief. Intent and will is everything.
People who dont understand halacha try to be too machmir (stringent) when they don’t need to be. We have some of the most brilliant men who have ever lived able to apply mishapt, Torah justice but aren’t. One thing about *mishpat* that people tend to not understand is that its not just enforcement of a verdict, its also acquittal; *adjudication* is both.
Let me give you an example, the Baal haTanya, the first Lubavitcher Rebbe was considered a heretic is his day, going against established Judaism, even though he was a great that made one of the finest versions of the Shulchan Aruch to grace our tradition, in addition to his other mystical and liturgical works. People who had issue with him thought they found an error in him when it came to kashrut, that he permitted certain chickens to be kosher they would have not allowed. When they came to attacked him he proved by the halacha that what they thought was a disease in the body of the chicken was really not, that they were being over zealous but the real crux of the issues that challenged kashrut in regard to that topic were not relevant to the case at hand. Furthermore, he stated he asked the people in those cases if they had anything else, since the birds were okay but not ideal he allowed but if there was a more ideal bird available he would have not. They left embarrassed.
When a rabbi gives a leniency and interprets a Torah law a certain way people who don’t understand get all upset because they don’t understand why; its beyond their comprehension. Let me give you an example, if a man goes a general practitioner and shows a doctor a bump if the guy goes crazy and says “its cancer we need chemotherapy right now,” but you know its not that extreme I would seek a second opinion. If a doctor, an oncologist who know the issues well and deeply says “oh its a pimple use this cream” hes not being lenient and liberal, he just knows better. Now how stupid of it would we be if we go the other way and say “oh give me chemo its better to be safe than sorry” when the outcome will most likely make you ill if not kill you. People need to show reason.
“Okay, so it’s generally my rule to stay out of discussions related to other religions, its not my business. However, when it comes to this I think I gotta make an exception to the rule.”
Shmu…. what stream of Christianity were you part of before you converted?
“The truth is more people want to be open, more people want to affirm gays and lesbians”
I think that people should treat those men and women who are practicing homosexual acts [in private] with as much love and respect as they afford to others. However, I get a bit irked when a clearly deviant but supposedly private sexual behavior is bestowed with its very own identity and gets promoted as perfectly normal.
To briefly continue to comment on evolution in the Orthodox community, Joshua commented on Derek Leman’s blog in response to something I said, and provided a link to an informative article called, Rupture and Reconstruction: The Transformation of Contemporary Orthodoxy. Just to warn you, it’s really long.
@gene i think you have me misunderstood. i am not a “messianic,” and do not consider it a independent religion from Christianity. im sefardi by birth, chassidish by choice, though my mother jokes im a “closet litvak” because of my temperament in gemara study.
notice how people keep talking about their distaste. i guess i can understand, i have a distaste in how religious Judaism is being defined by people. usually one’s Jewish affiliation is defined by ones level of adherence in regards to kashrut and shabbat observance,. i detest that people are suggesting that the litmus test for ones Judaism should be whether or not they accept gays.
Shmu… I am talking about you “converting” to Judaism (not “messianic”) from Christianity (or no religion). I think you are Hispanic (Mexican?) non-Jew, who later came to claim Jewishness and Sephardic background (along with new Hebrew first name, etc.). One of countless such cases I’ve come across.
“i detest that people are suggesting that the litmus test for ones Judaism should be whether or not they accept gays.”
Accepting “gays” shouldn’t be a litmus test in Judaism. All Jews have equal worth. However, accepting homosexual acts as normative and in fact even allowed by Torah as part of Judaism – that’s a whole different ball of wax. Do you believe that Torah / Halacha approves of homosexual acts?
and your estimation would be wrong, im not one of you typical chutznikim; not that i care. obviously you have some racial bend, its probably better that your off the derech because those of us who come from dati backgrounds wouldnt be so inclined to tolerate such an attitude because its illogical and the knee jerk reaction of someone whose yiddishkeit is lox and bagels.
my feelings regarding the halacha is irrelevant, but i cannot reject the position of someone who who the title of Rav out of hand especially in regards to his judgement for someones else. again i would not agree with Steve, but it is not without my right to object. and my observation over three decades of watching this play out for people is that doing a whole of of the same is detrimental.
*correction its not WITHIN my right to object.
“those of us who come from dati backgrounds”
“my feelings regarding the halacha is irrelevant”
I didn’t ask about your feelings. I asked about your beliefs.
@gene my position regarding the halacha is one that is is unresolved. though i was taught an anti-gay position by default in upbringing, my position is one that i cannot say that the scriptures are speaking of a person who is naturally acting our their own inclinations. though i would have rather have been stringent and unbending, my personal understanding was challenged and was found unjustified by my own teacher Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo as a young man. he is one of the finest minds in haredi/dati leumi education and prominent rosh yeshiva b’aretz. its simple, im out ranked. secondly, its not about me; your just dont have a foot to stand on so you jump after anything you can do is panic. you show your prejudice and making yourself out to be a real chazir.
Well, this got heated, didn’t it?
Shmu, I am curious, did Rabbi Greenberg offer any kind of halakhic justification for this, or was he knowingly acting out a transgression and biting the bullet? I am not Jewish, but I am very curious about Jewish things. This seems to me like not a matter of a fine point of halakha being in controversy, as with the case of the Baal ha-Tanya and the kashrut of chickens. This is nothing less than the plain meaning of a mitzvah in Torah she-Bikhtav being overturned. Even if you could argue that it didn’t violate that (you’d really have to try), the Torah from the very start does obviously promote an ideal of man and wife, and one should aim not for the possible minimum but for the ideal, am I right?
I take it you are Modern Orthodox and ba’al teshuvah? I’m glad you came to a Christian blog to add to the discussion. We need more interfaith without name-calling and hate.
I know I’m speaking outside the stream of the current conversation (though it looks like the conversation has come to an end), but at this point, we seem to be talking more about Orthodox Judaism in general and less about the issue of the acceptance of gays (or lack thereof) into Orthodox Judaism.
I just read an article at the Christian Science Monitor site called Among Righteous Men which is also the title of a book written by Matthew Shaer about the inner workings of the Chabad community in Crown Heights (Brooklyn). My wife actually accompanied our local Chabad rabbitzen to a Jewish women’s retreat in Crown Heights a few years back so she has some tenuous ties to that community.
I just thought I’d pass the link along since I find the information compelling and have no other place to post it at the moment.
Looks like jweekly.com is on a roll: Observant and lesbian: Anthology explores merging identities.
“Orthodox synagogues that are welcoming on some level to LGBT Jews are often under a lot of criticism from more mainstream and right-wing Orthodox communities,” she said. “Each community has a different character, and what might feel taboo or acceptable to one is the opposite for another. Some synagogues that won’t open their doors to this conversation have invited me to do living room talks — private events that are not publicized except by word of mouth.” -Miryam Kabakov
More like de-evolution. The problem with those who practice (and not just feel inclined) homosexual acts is NOT that they are somehow worse or more sinners than others. I do not fault anyone for seeking personal acceptance as human beings and as Jews. The problem is that they seek to gain public acceptance of naturally perverse and halachically forbidden acts as normative, healthy and approved by G-d. And THAT think is what makes American homo-activism incompatible with Judaism.
And THAT think is what makes American homo-activism incompatible with Judaism.
Gene, I don’t think it’s just in the U.S. Certainly this is a shared value in the liberal secular world of the west, which includes the U.S., Canada, and Europe (and probably other areas of the world). I also recall a news story from an Israeli news agency (I can’t remember the details) where a transgendered woman (born a man) was quietly (but not too quietly, since it ended up in the news) worshiping in an Orthodox shul in Israel with the tacit acceptance of the Rabbi and congregation. I found something on the topic at haaretz.com but not the article I was seeking.
JTA.com carried a story about transgendered jews this past summer and some of the information contained in the article agrees with your position:
In September 2008, when the former Jay Ladin returned to his post as an English professor at the Orthodox-affiliated Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women after transitioning to a woman, named Joy Ladin, a senior Y.U. faculty member — Rabbi Moshe Tendler — told The New York Post: “He’s a person who represents a kind of amorality which runs counter to everything Yeshiva University stands for. There is just no leeway in Jewish law for a transsexual.”
Rabbi Avi Shafran, director of public affairs for the haredi Orthodox Agudath Israel of America, said changing one’s gender through surgery or other medical intervention is prohibited according to Jewish law.
Nevertheless, the LGBT community is pressuring society in general to accept its lifestyle and orientation as normative and demanding equality across the board, including “marital equality”. If the LGBT person in particular is Jewish and Orthodox, rather than the individual bending to the ruling of the community, the LGBT Jewish person sees the situation as identical with the secular world and requires the community to bend to their will, not just in being quietly accepted (if not approved of), but by having their lifestyle be considered equal to heterosexual Jews. All this hinges on the belief that God made the person with a specific sexual identity that is permanent and immutable, regardless if they are straight, gay, bi, or transsexual.
I have tried to offer a forum in this blog post for all opinions and beliefs to get an idea about how particularly the Orthodox community sees Jewish gays, whether or not the Orthodox world was changing to accept gays, and if so, why it was changing. As we’ve seen in the secular world, generally held societal norms and values are able to be influenced through political and social means. The civil rights movement of the 1960s changed forever the way African-Americans were viewed and treated (though some say we still have a long way to go before racism is wiped out). The LGBT community believes that their struggle is identical to the civil rights movement of the ’60s (I don’t think I can buy this, but it again hinges on the “born this way” argument) and hangs its moral justification on that particular hook.
That halachah has changed over long stretches of time to accommodate the requirements of a particular generation seems to be established, and I have been trying to find out if the “gay question” is another one of those generational issues we can expect to change. There is some evidence that it’s been treated that way but only time will tell if the Orthodox community will choose to “morph” in that direction for the sake of Jewish inclusiveness.
Of course, you have your finger on the pulse of Orthodox Judaism and I don’t, so I can only imagine you have much greater insight into this issue. While Jewish LGBT people are attempting to treat “halachically forbidden acts as normative, healthy and approved by G-d”, it remains to be seen if Orthodox Judaism (if not God), will be swayed.
Reblogged this on oogenhand.